Another United States constitutional convention is a little closer to becoming a reality.
Alabama in May became the fourth state in which both houses of the state legislature have passed a resolution calling for a “Convention of States” to limit the federal government.
The convention would be a gathering of representatives from all of the states who would propose new amendments to the US Constitution. Article V of the US Constitution gives the states the right to call such a convention if two-thirds of the nation’s state legislatures pass resolutions calling for one. Proposed amendment would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.
Alabama’s resolution limits the proposed amendments to ones that “impose fiscal restraints on the federal 10 government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal 11 government, and limit the terms of office for its officials.”
“The people of Alabama should hold their heads high – they’ve implemented the Founders’ tool to fight federal overreach, and we’re one step closer to turning a Convention of States into a reality,” said Terry Richmond, the Alabama legislative liaison for the Citizens for Self-Governance, the group promoting the convention.
Convention backers like Richmond believe the gathering would be the best way to rein in the power of the federal government. Opponents like the John Birch Society are afraid that the Convention would give politicians a chance to rewrite the constitution and eliminate, for instance, the First and Second Amendments.
Listen to both sides of the debate in Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth report on the issue here.
It would take passage of resolutions in 34 state legislatures to make a Constitutional Convention, or a Con-Con, a reality. So far, four have done so: Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Alaska.
The Alabama victory was an impressive one, with the state House of Representatives voting 92-7 in favor of it. Alabama is the first state to pass the resolution in 2015; similar resolutions are before legislatures in 35 states.
The Constitution can be amended in two ways: by the US Congress passing an amendment and sending it to the states for ratification, or by the states calling for a convention and then gathering. It is this latter path that supporters have chosen.
Defeat for Convention of the States in Oklahoma
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted in April, 56 to 42, to defeat Senate Joint Resolution 4, which would have called for a convention, The New American reported. The vote was taken after six hours of floor discussions on the matter.
The Oklahoma measure had notable supporters, including former US Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican. Unlike in Alabama, the convention faced organized opposition in Oklahoma from the John Birch Society and conservatives in the House.
“They brought in the giants, we brought in the content, and we won,” Oklahoma John Birch Society leader Bob Donohoo said. Donohoo accused convention backers of sending out hundreds of emails and using automated telephone calls or robo-calls.
“It must have cost thousands,” Donohoo said of the campaign for the convention. “We kept emphasizing the dangers.”
State Representative David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow and Tulsa) voted against the proposal.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there aren’t any Thomas Jeffersons or James Madisons out there,” Brumbaugh. Like many opponents, Brumbaugh believes a modern convention would not do as well as the Founding Fathers did in 1789.
Coburn insists a Convention of States is a good idea.
“It is testament to the wisdom of our Founders to have included the Convention of States provision in Article V in the Constitution because they knew someday government might grow too big, take on too much debt and promulgate reams of regulation that stifle American prosperity,” he wrote in a Washington Times op-ed. “There is no question that is the Washington that exists today.
“Moreover, the Founders trusted the states and the people to step up and defend their own liberty and sovereignty. So do I.”
Do you support or oppose a Convention of States? Share your thoughts in the section below: