Is it time for Article V Convention of States to restrain government?
By Timothy Beck
Congress has amended the US Constitution 27 times and passed six amendments still awaiting ratification by the States. There are two ways to amend the Constitution.
The words “We the People” indicate that ‘the people’ are sovereign over the federal government, not the other way around. The original intent was to form a limited federal government.
The Declaration of Independence specifically listed the rights as “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” It also made the case that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive to those ends, it is the right of the People to alter the government.
What happens, therefore, when the size and intrusiveness of the government grows to the point where it becomes destructive to those ends?
The answer is laid out in Article V: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof ...”
All 27 amendments that were added to the Constitution were proposed and passed by Congress and then ratified by the required three-fourths of the States. But what happens when it is not in the best interests of the constantly growing federal government to alter its growing power?
Fortunately, one of the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, George Mason of Virginia, realized that in the proposed text of Article V, Congress would have sole power to propose amendments. He explained that an oppressive Congress would never agree to any changes that would restrain a tyrannical legislature.
He proposed that the language be changed to require Congress to call a Convention of States upon application by two-thirds of the States. Mason’s proposal was unanimously approved and incorporated into the Constitution, and unanimously approved by the States’ delegates on Sept. 15, 1787.
It’s important to note that (contrary to the narrative advanced by the Left today) a Convention of States is not a Constitutional Convention, nor does it allow for rewriting the entire Constitution. Article V does enable two-thirds of the States (34) to call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments.
Article V requires that a Convention of States and Congress can only make changes that are consistent with the application for amendments. Therefore, in connection with the current call for a Convention of States, the application passed by 15 of the required 34 state legislatures calls for a convention “to propose amendments to the US Constitution to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”
The question is whether career politicians and advocates of a bigger, more intrusive federal government will continue to object to calling a Convention of States? Additional information is available at: www.conventionofstates.com.