by Nick Dranias, the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and the director of the Institute’s Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.
This is the third in a series of reports by Goldwater Institute senior fellow Robert G. Natelson on the power of state legislatures to initiate the process for amending the U.S. Constitution under Article V. The previous two reports explain that the purpose of the Article V amendments convention is to provide a parallel process whereby the states effect constitutional amendments.
This report provides crucial practical drafting guidance for exercising the states’ constitutional authority. In essence, it recommends that state legislators draft their Article V applications and delegate commissions with an eye to targeting specific subject matters, while still giving state delegates a meaningful level of deliberative independence to ensure that the amendments convention can serve its consensus-building and problem-solving purpose. The key is to regard an amendments convention as a modern-day “task force”—a representative body that is limited to a specific agenda but expected to exercise judgment on accomplishing that agenda.