A state-level campaign to rein in the federal government by calling an unprecedented convention to amend the U.S. Constitution is gaining steam, picking up support from two high-profile Republicans as more states explore the idea.
Coburn, a legendary government-waste watchdog, announced this week that he has joined the effort by becoming a senior adviser for the group Convention of States Action, which wants states, not just Congress, to pass constitutional amendments.
Article V of the Constitution states amendments can be ratified either by Congress or by states if two-thirds of them petition Congress to call a convention. Then, any amendment proposed at the convention must be ratified by three-fourth, or 38, states.
So far, the Alaska, Florida and Georgia legislatures have each passed a resolution in support of a convention, and 25 more are considering one, according to group.
“Our founders anticipated the federal government might get out of control,” Coburn said Tuesday. “And they gave us a constitutional mechanism to rein it in.”
Meanwhile, Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich, a potential 2016 White House candidate, has recently concluded a six-state tour in which he has asked legislators to support the convention, largely to push the balanced budget idea.
“Who the heck thinks we should keep spending without any regard to the consequences?” Kasich, a fiscal hawk and former House Budget Committee chairman, asked in South Dakota. “I don’t care if you’re a Republican, a Democrat or a Martian. This is not what we should be doing as a nation. It’s irresponsible.”
Kasich, who claims credit for crafting a balanced federal budget before leaving Congress in 2000, gave a similar pitch week last month in Utah, urging state lawmakers to pass a convention resolution, which has failed there in past years.
However, he faced some surprising crosswind in the largely conservative state, skepticism about the idea from GOP Sen. Mike Lee.
The Tea Party-backed Lee has sponsored a balanced-budget amendment every year since getting elected to the Senate in 2010. But he reportedly is concerned about a convention creating the potential for a barrage of bad amendments.
Beyond getting Congress to pass a balanced budget, in which spending doesn’t exceed revenue, supporters of the largely Republican-backed effort are also focused on such issues as campaign finance reform and making sure the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t over regulate.
I would suggest only three amendments:
1) Balanced budget (with exception for strictly defined emergencies)
2) Feds cannot regulate or control anything that states can do for themselves. A strictly defined tenth amendment, in other words.
3) No one who receives more in public funds than they pay in taxes shall be allowed to vote.
@Petercat: #1, #2 Yes! #3 Absolutely!!
This is a very misguided intention. First the statement that ” which wants states, not just Congress, to pass constitutional amendments.” is not correct. Presently there are two ways the constitution can be amended, first, by passing 2/3 of both houses of congress and then also being ratified by 3/4ths of States (38). The second way is by a convention of the states at which at least 38 states approve the amendment.
So in either method, the approval of 38 states are required. Congress can NOT amend the constitution alone.
But the real problem with a Constitutional Convention is that THE WHOLE CONSTITUTION can be voided just by a vote of 38 states. There would be no limit on the number of changes that could result. Leave the Constitution alone and continue to follow the present rules to amend it. Can you imagine the hell that would result if we had 38 socialists.
I am for the Convention of States, but I too worry that it could also be used to changed the Constitution in the wrong way, or void it completely. Has there been an article written about the one-ones starting the drive for the Convention of States? Are they good guys, or are they bad guys? I would like to know.
I don’t see how a “convention of states” would be any different from the current situation. Sure, a convention could propose an amendment that would replace the constitution… but 3/4 of the states would still have to vote for it. For that matter, such an amendment could just as easily come from congress via the same method that’s been used to amend the constitution thus far.
I’m up for a “0th amendment” that would add a glossary to the constitution… and prevent or at least hobble judicial and congressional overreach by defining what certain words and phrases actually mean.
The biggest problem I see with having a Convention of States, is every citizen will have a say, and that means there will be MILLIONS of suggested changes. Just like the way obamacare got passes, there could be deals among the states like we have with the politicians now when they have the agreement, “I will vote for yours if you will vote for mine.”
Again, I would like to know what group or person started this, and what their background is.
@Smorgasbord: I guess there’s some confusion around the “convention of states”. Article V does not spell out how the convention is to be organized or any other procedures. In fact, it also allows the states to pass the proposed amendments by either a vote of the legislature or a convention within the individual states. So I suppose that the legislation from the states will have to determine the form of the convention. One other speed bump is that the constitution doesn’t say what happens if the States call for the convention and the congress doesn’t call it.
I’m not sure if ‘convention’ is defined for this type convention. But, I’m going to assume it is a meeting where each state sends one delegate that gets one vote. Therefore, if only 38 people vote to change anything in the constitution, then it is changed. The present method as is most used, is that 34 senators most vote for it, 291 Representatives must vote for it, then the legislatures of 3/4 (38) states must vote for it, resulting in an of action of probably several hundred people, rather than just 38 voters in the convention of states. Quite a difference.
@Jim S: #7
From many years of experience, I have come to doubt ANYTHING that ANY politician has ANYTHING to do with. The problem starts with the way politicians are elected. As long as they need somebody else’s money, the ones with the most money get what they want, because they donate to BOTH parties.
If a Convention of States is declared, then you will have all of the big businesses, the independently wealthy, and who knows who else, approaching THEIR state and federal politicians with big bucks to change the US Constitution to what is best for THEM, not WE THE PEOPLE.
The more I think about having a Convention of States, the more I fear that the wrong people want this for their own gain. Until we change a way for politicians to campaign in a way that they can’t spend ANY money, the ones with the most money will still get what they want. We need to take the money out of campaigning to get politicians in office that are more worried about WE THE PEOPLE than the ones who donate the most to their campaign. The different muslim organizations have tons of money to bribe THEIR politicians. I also believe that both parties have been infiltrated by the muslim brotherhood, so would the Convention of States be their doing?
I withdraw my support of the Convention of States until we get politicians in office who care more about pleasing WE THE PEOPLE than the ones who donate the most. LET’S GET THE MONEY OUT OF CAMPAIGNING.
@Smorgasbord: Way to go, Smorg.
@Redteam: No, with a “convention of states”, the convention only proposes the amendments. It still has to be passed by the states just like the “traditional” method. As far as I can tell, the states can do this either by a vote of the legislature or by a convention within the state itself.
By golly I think you’re correct. This is the wording and it does say what you said. I’m happy to see that is true. That way it takes a whole lot of people to make a change. Not just a few.
One of the original proponents of the constitutional convention of the states is Mark Levin, conservative radio host and author of “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic”. Mark has devoted a huge effort to establishing credibility for and understanding of the never-before-used convention of the states approach embedded in the constitution for just such an instance of a federal government running out of control.
I have listened to radio talk shows most of the 20 years I drove around the USA, and Mark is one of my favorites. Most of the other hosts have to do most of the talking when a caller calls in, but Mark would let the caller talk. If mark is for the Convention of States, then it must have been started by the right people.
I still see this as a chance for the wealthy to buy off the state and federal politicians to get what they want. I hope that it will turn out that WE THE PEOPLE won.