Is an Article V Amendments Convention in Your Future?

Tom Llewellyn is Publishing Editor, Fix the Debt Gazette and Legislative Outreach Director, Let Us Vote for a Fiscal Responsibility Amendment.

With inflation stubbornly high, interest rates rising, and the federal debt soaring, the states have the right solution at hand. Article V of the US Constitution is one of the most powerful tools state legislators have to effect lasting, national change.  This little-known constitutional option empowers states to push back on the federal government’s tendency to exceed its authority and address any lingering problems that Congress is unable or unwilling to solve. This is accomplished by proposing new amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The ALEC Article V Handbook is a useful guide to state lawmakers who want to learn more about this constitutional option.

New research suggests the Article V threshold to call an amendments convention (2/3 of the States) may have already been reached. States should be ready, as the process can happen fast, with each on equal footing in this first ever use of Article V by the states to propose amendments. It promises to be American federalism at its most potent.

ALEC has three model policies to serve as a toolkit to prepare for this inaugural amendments convention.

The ALEC model Article V Application for a Federal Fiscal Responsibility Amendments Convention to Curb Runaway Inflation and Restore Fiscal Sanity would:

  • Limit appointed state convention delegates’ authority to the subject of the call and solidify support for one-state-one-vote rules with a majority vote to propose amendments;
  • Notify the state’s congressional delegation that the Article V threshold has been met and support an immediate call for an amendments convention; and
  • Urge state attorneys general to join a mandamus case defending the right of the states to gather to propose amendments.

The ALEC model No Runaway Article V Conventions Act, or the Safe Conventions Act, enables each state legislature to appoint Article V commissioners to provide instruction and oversight over any delegate unfaithful to their oath of office. This could include a potential recall or additional sanctions consistent with that state’s law.

The ALEC model Act to Ensure US Amendments Are Ratified by Article V State Conventions Are a Vote of “We the People” supports that the mode of ratification of any proposed amendment resulting from a convention of the states  be a vote of the people to select FOR or AGAINST delegates to a subsequent state ratifying convention. This ratification method was first used in 1933 to repeal prohibition and could:

  • Minimize the influence of vested interests;
  • Expedite the vote by consolidating it to a single ballot cycle; and
  • Secure broad popular support for the coming shift in US fiscal policy.

If the Article V threshold has been reached, a bill currently under consideration in Congress (HCR24) would initiate the call for a convention of the states. If Congress fails to fulfil its duty to call an Article V convention to propose amendments, several states are prepared to file a mandamus case so the courts can compel Congress to act.

America goes an additional $2.1 billion  deeper in debt every day that we delay implementing permanent fiscal reform. Half of that just pays the daily interest.  By exercising the constitutional authority in Article V, the states could propose a comprehensive fiscal responsibility amendment to prevent cuts in federal services like Social Security and Medicare, lessen the American people’s tax burden to service the national debt, and direct the country towards a bright, fiscally-sustainable future.

If the tremendous success of the Swiss Debt Brake (discussed in this ALEC Across the States podcast) is any indication, the benefits of committing to a long-term fiscal plan will usher in a new era of sustained economic health for America and a higher standard of living for generations to come.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American Legislative Exchange Council. 

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