The Alaska House of Representatives passed a resolution Wednesday (3/12) that calls for an Article V Convention of States. The news comes hot on the heels of the announcement that the Arizona House passed an Article V resolution of their own earlier Wednesday.
— Convention of States (@COSProject) March 13, 2014
The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Tammie Wilson and passed with a final vote of 24-13. The bill now goes to the Alaska Senate for consideration.
“By calling a Convention of States, we can stop the federal spending and debt spree, the power grabs of the federal courts and unelected bureaucrats, and other misuses of federal power,” Rep. Wilson said. “The current situation is precisely what the founders feared, and that’s why they gave us a solution.”
Under Article V of the Constitution, states can call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution if 34 states pass similar applications.
Alaska’s bill resolves “to call a convention of the states for the sole purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office of federal government officials.”
Alaska is currently in a race with Arizona in determining who will become the second state to officially apply for a convention of states. Georgia became the first earlier this month, and several other states will consider Article V resolutions sometime this year.
Under Article V, a signature by the state’s governor is not necessary for it to be valid; only passage through both houses of the legislature is required.
Convention of States Project and Compact for America have been the primary proponents of the Article V Convention of States movement. The effort received a significant boost when Mark Levin released his bestselling book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic late last year. Levin, an eight-year veteran of the Reagan administration, outlines a blueprint for an Article V Convention that would restore power to state and local governments.
Other historical proponents of an Article V Convention include President Eisenhower, in support of Congressional term limits, President Reagan, in support of a balanced budget amendment, and Milton Friedman.
The Framers were clear that Article V would be the method by which states could address the overreach of a federal government. According to James Madison’s notes, Col. George Mason, one of Virginia’s delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, was one of the leading advocates for this provision, arguing it was necessary for the states to have recourse “if the Government should become oppressive.”
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.”
Likewise, in Federalist 43, James 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.”
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.
Follow Garret on Twitter at @G_Humbertson.