The following was written by Idaho Legislative Liaison Jake Ball and originally published in the Idaho Statesman.
The Idaho Legislature is considering a resolution to include Idaho in an Article 5 Convention of States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Twelve other states have successfully passed similar resolutions in the past four years.
Those in favor of the resolution recognize that states must assume their constitutionally granted role to manage the federal government through an amendment process.
Idaho’s application for a convention is limited to two topic areas: imposing fiscal restraints on and limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.
Fiscal restraints would put our financial house in order, something Congress has proven utterly unwilling to do for decades.
Limiting the jurisdiction and power of the federal government would clarify the role and responsibilities of the federal government. It is the tool needed to reverse federal laws that rob the states of the sovereignty that is the essence of our republic.
While much can be made in an academic debate of an Article 5 convention, these are the practical facts:
1. Americans across the political spectrum recognize the balance of power between the states and the federal government is grossly out of balance. Our exploding national debt is the symptom of a federal government that we can neither manage nor afford.
2. A Convention of Amendments is not a Constitutional Convention. Article 5 is not a means to replace or rewrite the Constitution, it’s a pathway to propose amendments to it.
3. An Article 5 Convention of the States can only propose amendments; it cannot change the Constitution by itself.
4. The barriers to amend our Constitution are extremely high; 34 individual state legislatures must call for a convention and 38 states must agree to any proposed amendments.
Those who oppose the resolution are concerned about a “runaway” convention, the notion that a convention would produce amendments to erode our rights and remake our government. Examples are a repeal of the Second Amendment, or abolishing the Electoral College.
To those who harbor this concern, I make this challenge: Produce a list of 38 state legislatures that would feasibly agree to repeal the Second Amendment or make radical changes to the structure of government.
The entire amendment process can be halted by 13 state legislatures. This is ample assurance that only broadly recognized needs would be addressed by the convention and ratified by the states.
We the people are the caretakers of the republic. The Founders deliberately made state legislatures the check on an imperious federal government. I trust citizen legislators in Idaho and elsewhere to restore a proper balance of power. They are the closest to “We the people.”
If we are to preserve our republic for future generations, the effort must be led by the states. We’ve waited too long for Congress and presidents to act responsibly.
The time is now for an Article 5 convention of states.