North Dakota’s House of Representatives just passed a measure to apply for a convention of states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the second legislative body to pass this resolution in 2015.
The measure was passed by a wide margin, with 63 members voting in favor and 29 voting against.
Last week, Arizona’s House became the first to pass the resolution this session. The Senates of both states will still need to approve the measure for the application to become official. A governor’s signature is not needed.
The resolution calls for a convention “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.”
Convention of States Project, launched late in 2013, has been the primary proponent of this language and already has an extensive network in all 50 states with about 100,000 citizen volunteers.
Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, states can call a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution if 34 states pass similar applications. Three states ratified this resolution last year, and at least 25 states will consider the Convention of States Project resolution this year.
The effort received a significant boost when Mark Levin released his bestselling book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic. 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.
Levin recently spoke before several hundred state legislators, telling them they had a constitutional obligation to use Article V and reclaim their power.
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 a letter, 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.”
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.