The Florida Senate has passed a resolution that calls for an Article V convention of states. According to early reports, the motion passed by a voice vote, due to the overwhelming support for the resolution.
— Convention of States (@COSProject) April 3, 2014
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.
Last month, Georgia became the first state to officially submit an application for a convention of states that would meet “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’s House, Alabama’s House, and Arizona’s House have all passed similar resolutions. Florida is the fifth state in which a legislative body has passed this specific resolution, of which Convention of States Project is the primary proponent.
Meanwhile, a balanced budget amendment convention may also be on the horizon. This week, Rep. Duncan Hunter asked Congress to determine if enough states have submitted applications to call an Article V convention for the purpose of discussing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) writes to Boehner to see if enough states called for a constitutional convention to propose a balanced budget amdt
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) April 1, 2014
Some say that Michigan became the necessary 34th state to submit an application state. However, 12 states may have previously rescinded their applications.
An Article V Convention of States is unprecedented in the history of the United States, but advocates of limited government are increasingly turning to this constitutional provision in order to reign in the federal government.
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.