Arizona’s House of Representatives passed a resolution Wednesday (3/12) to apply for an Article V convention of states.
The resolution states that a convention should be called “for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that will impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for officials of the federal government.”
— AZHouseGOP (@AZHouseGOP) March 12, 2014
Under Article V of the US Constitution, states can call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution if 34 states pass similar applications.
Earlier this month, Georgia became the first state to officially pass a Convention of the States resolution. Similar legislation will be considered by several other states this year, including Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
The Arizona resolution passed by a final vote of 32-25. Rep. Kelly Townsend introduced the item which will now be considered by the Arizona Senate.
In an exclusive interview with Red Millennial, Rep. Townsend expressed her support for the Article V Convention process.
“Our Founders knew and could foresee the overreach of the federal government, that it would become too big, and it would never reign itself in,” she said. “They made a provision so that the states could take care of that.”
Rep. Townsend believes the time for this provision has arrived.
“We have reached that point, there’s no doubt about it. (Article V) is a mechanism for people of this country to use.”
Amendments being considered by state legislators include a balanced budget amendment, an amendment to establish Congressional term limits, as well as amendments that would reduce the size and scope of the federal government.
“We have a runaway federal government,” Rep. Townsend said. “The spending is out of control. It’s so out of control that it’s mind-boggling. It’s damaging this great nation.”
Townsend was one of 97 state legislators from 32 states that attended the Mount Vernon Assembly in December to discuss rules for an Article V Convention of States.
“It was great to be in a room of like-minded, determined legislators. We are all concerned about our country.”
“They had a picture of George Washington on a large screen with his big blue eyes looking right at you. If he were here today, what would he say to us? We need the kind of bravery that he had for his time. We have to bind together, trust our fellow countrymen, and address this issue.”
Townsend revealed that attendees of the Mount Vernon Assembly have stayed in touch and will meet again in June, this time in Indianapolis.
In her interview with Red Millennial, Rep. Townsend also addressed objections to this effort, especially the concerns of a so-called runaway convention.
“I point to Article V itself,” said Townsend. “The Article V Convention of States is on an equal playing field as the authority of Congress to propose amendments. These amendments have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.”
“Any amendment that could be proposed in a convention could be proposed tomorrow in Congress. The reason (that radical amendments) aren’t being proposed is because they aren’t viable amendments. Nobody believes they will be ratified by 38 states.”
Rep. Townsend confirmed that the Article V process could be difficult, but that isn’t going to discourage her.
“It took one hundred years to unravel what we have, so we have to be diligent. I’m willing to persevere. However long it takes. As long as I’m in the legislature, I will be proposing this bill.”
Townsend also said that states must wean themselves from federal dollars, which makes states beholden to the federal government.
“Until we can wean ourselves from this dependency, we have to answer to them.”
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 in order to 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.