When conservative author and talk show host Mark Levin launched his ambitious project to restore America, it reenergized a nationwide movement that is working to utilize a little-known constitutional provision in order to restrain the federal government. Article V of the Constitution outlines two methods by which the foundational document can be amended. The first method is the only one that has ever been used—proposal by Congress. The other method is a convention of states, which can be achieved if two-thirds (34) of the states pass similar applications.
Since the release of Levin’s book, three state legislatures (Alaska, Florida, and Georgia) have passed resolutions that apply for an Article V convention of states that would meet to craft constitutional amendments that would “impose fiscal restraints on the Federal Government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the Federal Government, and limit the terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress.” That language was drafted by Convention of States Project.
Additionally, 24 states have passed resolutions seeking a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Nearly 100 state legislators from 32 states met last December to start a dialogue on a future convention of states. The Assembly of State Legislatures will reconvene next month to craft rules for a future Article V convention. The Convention of States movement has since garnered widespread support from a host of notable conservative figures.
Upon the release of Levin’s #1 bestseller, Glenn Beck reportedly sought to end a long-standing rivalry between the two hosts, who individually both draw about 8 million listeners each week, (trailing only Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity). Levin then went on Beck’s program in order to talk about the Article V convention process, which Beck was eager to learn more about. Levin declared on his own radio program that the state of the nation is too dire for he and Beck to continue to clash. Beck has since become an outspoken supporter of an Article V convention. “This is the only way back,” he told his listeners, brandishing Levin’s book on his video broadcast.
Sen. Rand Paul
Palin posted a photo to her Facebook page of herself holding a copy of The Liberty Amendments with a caption that read, “It offers a real solution and way forward to restoring our republic. Please get this book, read it, and let’s make it happen!”
Palin, who has become an anti-establishment and Tea Party figure, recently told Eric Bolling, “On the state level, I think it’s very important that we find candidates who would be willing to call a convention of states if need be, because that is the tool that the people have to reign in government.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal
Jindal said that an “Article V constitutional convention” is the answer to the federal government’s overspending, specifically a balanced budget amendment. He also mentioned term limits, a provision requiring a supermajority of Congress in order to raise taxes, and an amendment that would make Congress part-time. Governor Jindal formally announced his support for the movement on November 11, 2014:
“The federal government has clearly grown far beyond the size and scope that the Founders ever envisioned. Over-spending, excessive regulatory overreach, and disdain for individual liberty all run rampant in Washington D.C. Luckily, the Founders gave us a mechanism to reform a runaway federal government in Article V of the Constitution. We can — and we must — scale back the monstrosity that our federal government has become. For this reason, I support the Convention of States project efforts to call an Article V convention to propose amendments to restrain the size of the federal government.”
Sen. Tom Coburn recently quit the Senate, because “it’s time for me to do something else.” That “something else” appears to be promoting the Article V convention process.
“I’m going to be involved with the Convention of States. I’m going to try to motivate so that that happens. I think that’s the only answer,” Coburn said. “Washington isn’t going to fix itself. We need a balanced budget amendment, we need term limits, we need the oversight capability to limit the bureaucracy in terms of its impact on the private sector . . . We need to have that discussion. And I want to tell you, the country’s tuned for it.”
Herman Cain penned an op-ed in support of the process.
“If you’re frustrated by the refusal of Congress to stop its fiscal insanity – and how could you not be? – it’s time to start realizing that the Constitution gives states and the people more power over Congress than most realize. And right now there is an effort called the Article V Initiative that would wield and deploy that power.”
The former Attorney General of Virginia recently endorsed the movement, encouraging Virginia legislators to adopt the resolution.
“We can continue to idly watch the Supreme Court and the federal government eat away at the constitutional foundation of this country, or the states that founded it can make an effort to limit the runaway growth in the power of the federal government. Frankly, I don’t see – nor has anyone suggested to me – a viable alternative to the convention of states.”
Sen. Ted Cruz immediately declared his support for The Liberty Amendments upon its release, posting a link on his Facebook page. Cruz wrote, “Mark’s book sparks an important discussion about how to fix the problems that face our Republic…” During Cruz’s 21-hour filibuster of Obamacare, a copy of Levin’s book was seen in a stack of his reading materials.
“If Washington will not reform itself, if Washington will not employ the techniques built into the Constitution to preserve the Constitution, Article V provides a mechanism for the states to do it.”
He also told a caller:
“There is a recipe, there’s a formula, there’s a prescription in the Constitution for addressing the problems we have today and fixing them. And it involves the states. In our Constitution, the states, particularly banded together, have far more power than the federal government, and the people, and it’s going to have to happen. This is gonna be resisted by the current ruling class. They’re not gonna want any part of this. So it’s gonna have to effervesce from the grassroots up.”
Michelle Malkin was asked about the movement during a recent question-and-answer session. She said, “I love the idea of an Article V convention.” Malkin also said that the movement could have a positive effect as “an act of civic education” so that people would learn more about the Constitution. “Two thumbs up,” she concluded.
Sen. Mike Lee recently told attendees of a dinner that he has read The Liberty Amendments not once, but three times. He stated that there is a great danger of not pursuing a convention. “I support it,” Lee said.
Hannity formally announced his endorsement for Convention of States Project March 23rd on his radio program while interviewing Tom Coburn .
Hannity, who nicknamed Mark Levin “The Great One,” was so supportive of The Liberty Amendments that he devoted an entire hour of his television show to the topic, inviting a panel of conservative figures to ask Levin questions about specific amendments. Those on the panel who explicitly expressed support for the process include Michelle Malkin, Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots, and David Limbaugh.
“For all those people who say, ‘What can we do?’ This is the answer,” said Hannity.
Col. Allen West
“Thank goodness the founders had the wisdom to provide us with Article V of the Constitution, which gives us the right and power to hold an Amending Convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to restrain the scope and power of the federal government . . . Under the system of federalism, I support the efforts to gather a constitutional Convention of States consistent with Article V and honoring the 10th Amendment.”
“The convening of an Article V convention is a viable tool for the states and the people, to ensure they accept and stand up for Franklin’s challenge – a Republic, if we can keep it.”
“The Framers gave us a structure to allow the states to unilaterally impose proper controls on the federal government when it overruns the boundaries they had established. Article V allows for a Convention of States for this very purpose. The states can meet in official session to draft amendments to the Constitution that require fiscal restraint and other limitations on federal power. My longtime friend, Michael Farris—who is an excellent constitutional litigator and professor—has joined with Mark Meckler and Citizens for Self-Governance to actually bring this idea into reality. I have reviewed their plan and it is both innovative and realistic.
I urge you to join me in supporting the Convention of States Project with Citizens for Self-Governance.”
“Americans who care about the health and future of their country have the power through the states to force the federal government to abide by its founding document. Mark Levin’s book is a serious work that can serve as an action plan for curing what ails us.”
Gov. Mike Pence
Pence recently signed Article V legislation that was passed by the Indiana state legislature, indicating his support for the process. Under Article V, approval by a Governor is not required for the resolution to be valid.
Sen. Ron Johnson
“I am a big supporter of what Mike [Farris] is proposing here: the Convention of States. This problem is not going to be solved in Washington D.C. It’s got to be solved by We the People. We’ve got to take the power back. I can’t think of a better way of doing it, because Washington is not going to give up power.”
Upon hearing about Levin’s book, Limbaugh actually penned a piece opposing the process. However, after becoming more educated on the Article V process, he is now an enthusiastic supporter. He wrote not one but two op-eds encouraging readers to pursue a convention of states.
“Mark Levin is calling on us to take corrective steps — through a process anticipated and expressly sanctioned by the Framers, no less — to restore our system and reinvigorate our liberties. Let’s pray his effort becomes an inexorable movement that sweeps the nation like the Great Awakening.”
Gov. John Kasich
Kasich has reiterated his support for an Article V convention for the purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment, although he thinks that Congress will beat the states to the punch if enough states pass similar resolutions. “If 34 states can get there and say ‘we want a federally balanced budget and we want that in our Constitution,’ something will happen.”
Rep. Tom Marino
Marino recently spoke in favor of an Article V convention, and he mentioned three specific amendments he would like to see passed: term limits, an amendment limiting Congress to single-subject legislation, as well as an amendment that would force a vote on all bills passed out of committee.
Rep. Todd Rokita
“Presently, a constitutional convention of the states is one of the best remedies that can restore the vision our founders had for our great Republic.”
“Instead of praying for another Ronald Reagan on a white horse, we should pick up and use the tools at hand. Let’s begin by using the constitutional amendment process allowed in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The Article V Convention offers the hope for a reversal of our present downward spiral. Let’s get busy.”
In addition to contemporary political leaders, several historical figures have expressed support for the Article V convention process.
When a balanced budget amendment stalled in Congress during Reagan’s presidency, he implored the American people to make the case to their state legislatures. It almost worked. Thirty-two states passed resolutions, two short of the number needed for an Article V convention. In a letter, Reagan wrote:
“We must rely on the states to force Congress to act on our amendment. Our Nation’s Founders gave us the means to amend the Constitution through action of state legislators. That is the only strategy that will work.”
Friedman was also an ardent advocate the Article V convention process, even penning several proposed Constitutional amendments that would unleash economic growth and expand liberty in his book Free to Choose.
“The recent movement to call a convention to propose amendments…has sown consternation in Washington–precisely because it is the one device that can effectively bypass the Washington bureaucracy.”
President Eisenhower floated the idea of a constitutional amendment to impose Congressional term limits, but knew he that such an amendment would never be passed by Congress itself.
“A (constitutional) amendment (for congressional term limits) could never achieve the blessing of Congress. It could be initiated only by the states.”
Although James Madison had his initial concerns about the potential logistical issues of a convention of states, he ultimately expressed his support for the principle of such a process. (Article V was adopted unanimously by the delegates to the Philadelphia constitutional convention). In Federalist 43, Madison wrote:
“Should the provisions of the Constitution…be found not to secure the government and rights of the states, against usurpation and abuses on the part of the United States, the final resort within the purview of the Constitution, lies in an amendment of the Constitution, according to a process applicable by the states.”
In Federalist 85 Alexander Hamilton writes extensively about Article V, stating flatly:
“We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.”
Madison’s notes on the constitutional convention reveal that Col. George Mason, the other “Father of the Bill of Rights,” stood in opposition to an early draft of Article V that omitted any process by which states could propose constitutional amendments. Mason gave a passionate speech, arguing it was necessary for the states to have recourse “if the Government should become oppressive.” The initial draft only permitted Congress to propose amendments. In his notes, Madison records that as a result of Mason’s concerns, “Mr. Morris & Mr. Gerry moved to amend the article so as the require a Convention on application of 2/3 of the Sts.”
It seems that the Framers anticipated the rise of an overreaching federal government in America, and so they constructed Article V as recourse, a powerful weapon with which the states can fight back. This strategy combines the spirit of the Constitution with the authority of the states.
In The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, Levin makes the case that state legislatures should pursue an Article V convention in order to achieve amendments that would limit the federal government and restore power to the states and to the American people. His amendments include Congressional and judicial term limits, a balanced budget amendment, spending and taxation limits, clarifying language regarding the Commerce Clause and General Welfare Clause, and amendments that would grant the states the ability to collectively override costly federal regulations, Supreme Court rulings, and laws passed by Congress.
Levin’s strategy would take advantage of the political climate on the state legislature level, which is trending Republican. Although the movement is not meant to be partisan in nature, Republican legislators have been much more open to the prospect of a convention that would limit the power of the federal government. Republicans currently have majorities in 27 state legislatures, while seven legislatures are split. Republicans are expected to make gains in legislatures across the nation in this year’s cycle.
Recent polling indicates that about 75 percent of all American support an amendment to establish Congressional term limits as well as a balanced budget amendment.
With an Article V Convention of States, Americans can bypass a Congress that is incapable of addressing the real issues that threaten prosperity and liberty. An Article V convention would bring real change to Washington, break up the ruling class, restore fiscal sanity to the federal government, and reestablish the liberating Constitutional structure that the Framers envisioned.