State legislators from across the country will meet in for a simulated Article V convention of the states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The gathering, hosted by Citizens for Self-Governance, will take place next month in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia and will be the first-ever test run of an actual Article V convention.

As explained earlier, Article V details two processes for amending the U.S. Constitution. The first requires congress write and propose an amendment that is then sent to the states for a ratification vote. The second process requires two-thirds of the state legislatures submit applications for a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments. The applications must specify an amendment subject matter or matters. Should two-thirds of the states submit applications pertaining to the same subject matter, an Article V convention of the states is called.

The dress rehearsal

So far, 8 of the 34 necessary states have submitted an application calling for an Article V convention, though several more states are currently in the process of doing so. That number, however, isn’t stopping legislators from more than 40 states from convening next month for a “dress rehearsal.” State legislators attending will act as delegates (“commissioners”) and will consider amendment proposals that “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and set term limits for its officials and for Members of Congress.”

In short, the simulation is being held in order to better familiarize state legislators across the country with the rules and processes of an Article V convention. The convention will be operated under the rules and protocol of past conventions.

“We have over 300 years of history of states meeting together in conventions,” Article V scholar Robert Natelson told a group of state legislators last year. “The convention for proposing amendments – that’s the title the Constitution gives it – is clearly based upon that model of states and, before them, colonies, getting together in diplomatic-type meetings in order to address particular problems.”

Citizens for Self-Governance president Mark Meckler stressed the urgency of utilizing the Article V process:

“Using Article V to rein in the federal government is exactly what ‘we the people’ are supposed to do. An amending convention will hold the federal government to a new standard with amendments that may include a balanced-budget amendment that uses generally accepted accounting principles, as well as ensure that the Commerce Clause and General Welfare Clause are interpreted based on original intent.”

Washington isn’t going to reform itself. If the Republican-held Senate and House of Representatives sincerely wanted to rein in federal spending, they would have crafted a balanced budget amendment. The states have no choice but do do something themselves.

Disclosure: The author volunteers for the Convention of States Project in her state


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