The following was written by Matthew Stolle and originally published on Minnesota's Post Bulletin newspaper.
Fearful of what it regards as a bloated and overreaching federal government, a grassroots movement has been building to trigger a Convention of States in order to amend the constitution and tame the leviathan.
Earlier this year, Arkansas, Utah and Mississippi became the 13th, 14th and 15th states to pass a resolution calling for a convention of states. Nineteen more states are needed to reach the two-thirds threshold that would trigger a convention.
If it comes to pass, it will be the first of its kind. Although there have been previous efforts to hold a convention of states, past supporters have never reached the two-thirds threshold to bring it about. All amendments to the Constitution have been brought about through a process initiated by Congress and then ratified by three-fourths of the states.
But with a movement now 3.5 million strong, fueled by what advocates say is frustration with government's entanglements in people's lives, the COS project is seen as growing in momentum, Fuhrman said.
"What we're really trying to build is a grassroots movement, to demand from our legislators to call for the convention," Fuhrman said.
Fuhrman said the Founders created an alternative to Congress-initiated amendments so that the people could initiate and propose amendments. It was also viewed by the Founders as a way of getting around a tyrannical and unresponsive Congress.
Fuhrman said a convention of states would focus on three objectives: Limiting the scope and power of the federal government; fiscal restraint; and term limits for all elected and appointed officeholders, including those on the Supreme Court.
Although the objectives sought by the COS movement are more in line with conservative and libertarian thinking, Fuhrman said he doesn't see the matter as a left-right issue.
With the deficit growing to $1 trillion a year in a time of prosperity, concerns over out-of-control spending is not a partisan issue.
"One of the points I will make at the presentation (in Rochester) is that it doesn't matter who is in office. They just keep spending more and more money and putting us deeper in debt," Fuhrman said. "This is a federal versus the states problem, as opposed to right versus left."
Could a convention of states, should one happen, be hijacked and used to eliminate, say, Second Amendment rights? Fuhrman said it's a concern that's been expressed in the past. He says it couldn't happen because of the safeguards in place in the COS process.
For one, if anything were introduced outside of the three proposed areas, it would be gaveled out of order. And any amendment proposals to could out of a convention would have to be approved by three-fourths of the states.
"One house in 13 states can say no, and it won't pass. So it's a really high bar," Fuhrman said.
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