A Convention of States is one step closer to reality after Indiana’s state legislature passed a resolution calling for a constitutional convention.
Indiana this week became the sixth state to call for a convention that would propose new amendments to the US Constitution limiting the federal government. Tennessee’s legislature passed a resolution demanding such a convention in early February.
Backers of the Convention hope to use Article V of the US Constitution to restrain federal power.
“Article V is the tool given to the state legislatures by the Founders to use in the event the Federal government exceeded its authority and put the nation in jeopardy,” the resolution’s sponsor, State Rep. Eric A. Koch (R-Bedford) said. “They were wise in their foresight. Washington will not fix itself, and we have the obligation to act.”
The so-called Article V movement has been gaining ground in recent months, and in recent months both Texas Governor Greg Abbott and presidential candidate US Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) endorsed the idea.
In addition to Indiana and Tennessee, the other four states to call for a convention are Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Alaska.
Indiana’s resolution calls for a convention 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.”
What is Article V, Anyway?
There are two ways to propose amendments to the US Constitution: by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a Constitutional Convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures. The latter is sometimes called an Article V convention, a reference to the fifth section of the US Constitution which gives state legislatures the power to call a constitutional convention. The amendments would then have to be approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures — 38 states.
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Opponents, such as the editorial board of USA Today, are afraid that such a convention could spin out of control and overturn the provisions that guarantee Americans’ basic freedoms including the First, Second and Fourth Amendments. Supporters at Citizens for Self-Governance and the Convention of the States Project contend that the body could be limited to voting for just the measures that supporters want.
(Listen to both sides of the debate in a special Off The Grid Radio episode here.)
“A convention would be impossible to control,” an editorial in the newspaper read. “Nothing in the Constitution gives Congress or the Supreme Court the power to tell the conventioneers what to do, or not do. A convention might be tasked to draft a balanced budget amendment and then decide that it wants to radically change the nature of the federal government or its relationship with the states. It might take up a passion of the moment by, say, limiting immigration by nationality or religious affiliation. It would have nearly unfettered powers to tinker with the DNA of America’s 240-year-old democracy.”
Supporters say it is the only way to halt an out-of-control federal government.
“The Washington leviathan has been overstepping its constitutionally limited powers for too long,” said Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance and co-founder of the Convention of States Project. “The federal government derives its power from the people and the states, and today marks another step towards reinstating that authority. Congratulations to Indiana on becoming the sixth state to pass the Convention of States resolution to reclaim state power. Our team in The Hoosier State did a fantastic job, and I’m honored to work with such dedicated patriots.”
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