PHOENIX – America is in crisis. No matter who is elected, the federal government remains unable to balance its budget, to perform basic tasks efficiently, or to respect constitutional limits on its power. This has ignited a grassroots movement to amend the Constitution to restore fiscal responsibility and to protect liberty. A new study from the Goldwater Institute makes the legal and historical case that there is nothing to fear from states initiating this amendment process under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
“The Founders established a clear roadmap for state legislatures to initiate the process of amending the Constitution to include reforms such as a balanced budget amendment,” said Nick Dranias, director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute. “State legislatures should follow that roadmap before the federal government can drown our future in debt.”
“Amending the Constitution by Convention: A Complete View of the Founders’ Plan,” was written by Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Robert G. Natelson. The study notes the Constitution grants the states authority to apply to Congress for a convention to propose constitutional amendments. But efforts to call a modern convention have been thwarted by worries that delegates could run wild and propose changes that would undermine freedoms guaranteed to Americans for more than 220 years.
This new study shows such worries can be laid to rest, as the authors of the Constitution rejected any notion of conventions with unlimited power to completely rewrite its language. The study says a well-defined roadmap exists for calling a convention to propose amendments that includes:
• Congress must automatically call a convention when it receives an application from 34 or more states to address the same subject.
• An application from the states may bind a constitutional convention to address specific issues and therefore the convention cannot “runaway.”
• At least 38 states would have to ratify any amendments proposed by a convention, which provides significant protection against any unreasonable changes to the Constitution.
Other legal scholars have joined the Goldwater Institute in examining of the role of a convention to propose amendments. Today, Mr. Natelson will be the first presenter at a six-hour symposium about Article V of the Constitution that will be hosted by the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.
Click here for a copy of “Amending the Constitution by Convention: A Complete View of the Founders’ Plan.” The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog that develops innovative, principled solutions to issues facing the states and whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.