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States must not ignore powerful avenue for bringing back federalism

November 19, 2014

The federal government has spent wildly and imposed excessive mandates because the 50 states have neglected to check its growth. No “silver bullet” exists to instantly restore the proper balance of power between the states and federal government. Nevertheless, efforts to revive federalism need to include the best tools available, including an application from two-thirds of states legislatures for Congress to call a convention for proposing constitutional amendments that would reform the federal government.

An amendments convention can target specific reforms desired by the states because its agenda would be determined by the state applications. Delegates to the convention would be selected by the states and would be bound to stay within the scope of that agenda. And three-fourths of the states would have to ratify whatever the amendments convention proposes.

In short, the amendments convention process represents the states’ ultimate authority over the federal government. The states initiate the process, the states determine the reform agenda, and the states ratify any reform offered by the convention.

This country’s Founders expected the states to be vigilant and rein in the federal government when it oversteps its constitutional limits. The Constitution provides a path for the states to reassert their intended role with an amendments convention to safely address the kind of challenges that the United States faces today.

Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Amending the Constitution by Convention: A Complete View of the Founders’ Plan

Senator Chuck Gray: “A powerful idea whose time has come Model legislation



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