What is an Article V Convention?
A convention of states is a convention called by the state legislatures for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution. They are given power to do this under Article V of the Constitution. It is not a constitutional convention. It cannot throw out the Constitution because its authority is derived from the Constitution. We explain a Convention of States further in this video and in our Pocketguide.
Why Do We Want to Call a Convention of States?
Washington, D.C., is broken. The federal government is spending this country into the ground, seizing power from the states and taking liberty from the people. It’s time American citizens took a stand and made a legitimate effort to curb the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.The Founders gave us a tool to fix Washington, D.C. We must use it before it is too late. You can watch Michael Farris explain the problem here. You can download a copy of these FAQ's here.
How Do the State Legislatures Call a Convention of States?
Thirty-four state legislatures must pass a resolution called an “application” calling for a Convention of States. The applications must request a Convention of the States for the same subject matter. The applications are delivered to Congress.
Can Congress Block a Convention of States?
No. Once 34 states apply for a convention to propose amendments on the same issue (i.e., limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government), Article V requires Congress to name the place and the time for the convention. If it fails to exercise this power reasonably, either the courts or the states themselves can override Congressional inaction.
How is an Article V Convention different from a Constitutional Convention?
How Do States Choose Their Delegates?
tates are free to develop their own selection process for choosing their delegates—properly called “commissioners.” Historically, the most common method used was an election by a joint session of both houses of the state legislature. Rob Natelson explains this further in his handbook (page 14).
Article V says Congress “calls” the convention. Does this mean they control the Convention and choose the delegates?
No. The Founders made this very clear. Once 34 states apply, Congress has no discretion whether to call a convention and no control over the delegates (see Federalist No. 85, see paragraph beginning “In opposition to the probability…”). George Mason proposed to add the Convention of States provision to Article V because he thought Congress had too much control over the amendment process. The Framers unanimously agreed with him. It makes no sense to interpret Article V to give more power to Congress, when the whole point was to take power away.
This claim that Congress gets to choose the delegates also goes against common sense. Just because one party “calls” a convention, doesn’t mean it gets to choose the delegates for the other parties. Think about it. Virginia called the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Did it get to choose the delegates for Massachusetts? Of course not. Massachusetts did. Each state chooses its own delegates; it doesn’t matter who calls the convention. This is Agency law 101 and basic common sense.
What Happens at a Convention of States?
Delegates discuss and propose amendment proposals that fit the topic framed by the 34 state resolutions that triggered the convention. All amendment proposals the convention passes by a simple majority of the states will be sent back to the states for ratification. Each state has one vote at the Convention. If North Carolina sends seven delegates and Nebraska sends nine, each state must caucus on each vote. North Carolina’s one vote would be cast when at least four of its delegates agreed. Nebraska’s vote would be cast by the agreement of at least five of its delegates.
How are Proposed Amendments Ratified?
Thirty-eight states must ratify any proposed amendments. Once states ratify, the amendments become part of the Constitution. Normally, Congress designates the state legislatures as the ratifying body—but it may choose to have the states call ratifying conventions. If so, an election by the people would be held in each state to choose delegates to the ratifying conventions.
How Do We Know How a Convention of States Will Work?
Interstate conventions were common during the founding era, and the procedures and rules for such conventions were uniform. Thus, we can know how a Convention of States would operate by studying the historical record. Dr. Rob Natelson has done extensive research on this topic, and more details can be found here.
Is a Convention of States Safe?
Yes. The ratification process ensures no amendments will be passed that do not reflect the desires of the American people. In addition to this, there are numerous other safeguards against a “runaway convention,” all of which can be found in the Handbook. You can also watch this video, or read page 23 of the Pocket Guide.
Can an Article V Convention be Limited to a Single Subject?
Yes. The text, history, and purpose of Article V all point to the ability of the states to limit a convention to the consideration of a single topic or set of topics. Click here for a more detailed explanation.
If the Federal Government Ignores the Current Constitution, Why Would They Adhere to an Amended Constitution?
It is not really accurate to say that federal officials "ignore" the Constitution. What they do is better described as "lawyering" around it, taking advantage of loopholes and vague wording. For instance, they claim that the power to tax and spend for the general welfare, (which is admittedly vague for those who don't know the history) gives Congress power to tax and spend for any purpose whatsoever. Amendments at a Convention of States today will be written with the current state of the federal government in mind. The language will be unequivocal. There will be no doubt as to their meaning, and no possibility of alternate interpretations. This is the case with more recent amendments, like women's suffrage, which are uniformly obeyed.
For example, the General Welfare Clause could be amended to add this phrase: “If the States have the jurisdiction to spend money on a subject matter, Congress may not tax or spend for this same subject matter.”
Who is Citizens for Self-Governance and How Does It Relate to the COS Project?
Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) is the parent organization of the Convention of States Project. CSG provides the resources and experience necessary to make this project a success. The CSG mission is as follows: “Self-governance must be restored across America. Citizens for Self-Governance will elevate awareness and provide resources, advocacy, and education to grassroots organizations and individuals exercising their rights to govern themselves.” CSG sees the COS Project as a means to accomplish this mission.
Visit the CSG website at www.selfgovern.com
The Myths about Article V and the Answers
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