Approval ratings for Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court are all at record lows, reflecting the public’s dissatisfaction with a runaway federal government. Many are concerned about Washington D.C.’s culture of corruption, entitlement programs on the path to bankruptcy, and a complicated tax code and bureaucracy which stifle both economic growth and liberty.
With this in mind, nearly one hundred state legislators from 32 different states gathered at George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, on Saturday. They met to discuss the possibility of a Convention of the States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution, as described in Article V of the United States Constitution.
Fed up with the federal government’s overreach, state legislators says that such a convention would meet for the purpose of crafting constitutional amendments to curb the federal government’s abuses. Amendments that are being mentioned include Congressional term limits as well as limits on federal taxation and spending.
A recent Gallup poll found that 75 percent of Americans support Congressional term limits, and other polls indicate 74 percent support a balanced budget amendment. State legislators attending the Mount Vernon Assembly emphasized a bipartisan purpose for a future convention.
Saturday’s meeting was organized by Senator David Long of Indiana, and Representative Chris Kapenga of Wisconsin helped distribute information about establishing rules for such a convention.
Many more state legislators had expressed interest in attending the Mount Vernon Assembly, but the room was at capacity. Other legislators not in attendance have expressed their doubts about an Article V Amendments Convention becoming a reality, although Virginia and South Carolina recently became the first states to pre-file an application for such a convention.
Although no constitutional amendment has ever been implemented in this way, the Framers of the Constitution specifically included the state convention method for amending the Constitution so that the States could have a legal means to curb an out-of-control federal government.
As James Madison describes in his notes, many Framers were concerned that Congress alone would have the authority to propose amendments:
“Col: Mason thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable & dangerous. As the proposing of amendments is in both the modes to depend, in the first immediately, and in the second, ultimately, on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believe would be the case. Mr. Morris & Mr. Gerry moved to amend the article so as to require a Convention on application of 2/3 of the Sts.”
Per Article V of the Constitution, two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) must pass an application for a convention to occur. Then, the state legislatures would be able to send delegates to the convention, but each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments. It would require three-fourths (38) of the states to ratify any one amendment for it to become part of the Constitution.
Although many state legislators have been pursuing such a convention for years, recent endeavors like Convention of States Project, Compact for America, and Mark Levin’s book The Liberty Amendments have drawn significant attention to this movement. In addition, President Eisenhower once endorsed an Article V Convention for the purpose of Congressional term limits, while President Reagan supported the convention process to achieve a Balanced Budget Amendment.
Scroll down to see state legislators live-tweeting the event.