The Florida House passed a resolution calling for an Article V Convention of States by voice vote on Monday, joining the Florida Senate. Both legislative bodies passed identical versions of the bill, meaning that Florida is set to become the third state applying for a convention of this kind.
— Convention of States (@COSProject) April 22, 2014
A signature by the state’s governor is not necessary for the application to be valid; only passage through both houses of the legislature is required.
Georgia was the first state to officially apply for a convention of this kind, and Alaska became the second state on Saturday.
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.
The bill applies for an Article V Convention of States to propose 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.”
Convention of States Project, launched late last year, has been the primary proponent of this language and already has an extensive network in 40 states with more than 10,000 citizen volunteers.
Nearly one hundred state legislators, representing 32 states, met in December to discuss the process, as well as how they can establish rules to limit the scope and power of a convention of states. Attendees of the meeting expressed interest in constitutional amendments that would limit federal spending, federal taxation, federal regulation, and impose congressional term limits. Legislators will meet again this summer to craft rules for a future convention of states.
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.