Fighting Back: Arkansas House Calls for Convention of States to Restrain DC

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed a measure today applying for a convention of states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the third legislative body to pass this resolution in 2015.

The resolution, which was adopted with 52 representatives voting in favor and 33 against, 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.”

The Akansas House first voted on this resolution on Wednesday, with 45 yeas, 38 nays, and 17 present. Under the Arkansas House’s rules, a resolution needs 51 yeas in order to take effect. There was a motion to reconsider the measure earlier Friday, and after another vote it successfully passed.

Last month, Arizona’s House and North Dakota’s House became the first bodies to pass the resolution this session. The Senates of these states will still need to approve the measure for the application to become official. A governor’s signature is not needed.

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 more than 100,000 citizen volunteers.

Check out our video interview with the co-founders of Convention of States Project at CPAC 2015.

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.

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