Convention to Propose Amendments to the United States Constitution

SOURCE:  Wikipedia, captured 2020-07-03  |  Redirected (on Wikipedia) from Convention of States

  • Subsection:  Convention of States project


  • WARNING (BuriedTruth).  Actions such as those enacted by the Convention of States reflect attempts by wealthy "influencer" groups to amend the U.S. Constitution.


    A convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution, also called an Article V Convention or amendments convention, called for by two-thirds (currently 34) of the state legislatures, is one of two processes authorized by Article Five of the United States Constitution whereby the United States Constitution may be altered. Amendments may also be proposed by the Congress with a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either -- as determined by Congress -- the legislatures of three-fourths (presently 38) of the states, or state ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states. Thirty-three amendments to the United States Constitution have been approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Twenty-seven of these amendments have been ratified and are now part of the Constitution. As of 2020, the amendment convention process has never been used for proposing constitutional amendments.

    While there have been calls for an "Article V Convention" based on a single issue such as the balanced budget amendment, it is not clear whether a convention summoned in this way would be legally bound to limit discussion to a single issue; law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen has suggested that such a convention would have the "power to propose anything it sees fit," whereas law professor Michael Rappaport and attorney-at-law Robert Kelly believe that a limited convention is possible.

    In recent years, some advocates have argued that state governments should call for such a convention. They include Michael Farris, Lawrence Lessig, Sanford Levinson, Larry Sabato, Jonathan Turley, Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro, and Greg Abbott. In 2015, Citizens for Self-Governance launched a nationwide effort to call an Article V Convention, through a project called Convention of the States, in a bid to rein in the federal government. As of 2019, CSG's resolution has passed in 15 states. Similarly, the group Wolf-PAC chose this method to promote its cause, which is to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Their resolution has passed in five states.

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    Attempts to call an Article V convention

  • See also: List of state applications for an Article V Convention

    Every state except Hawaii has applied for an Article V Convention at one time or another. The majority of such applications were made in the 20th century. Before any official count had been taken, one private count puts the total number of applications at over 700. This is widely considered an overestimate. The House of Representatives is in the process of building its own official count which currently stands at over 120 with 35 states having current live calls that have not been rescinded. This is an underestimate as it so far does not include anything before the 1960s and there are many known Convention calls not yet included. Both Wolf-PAC and the Convention of the States estimate, based on spot checking, that the real figure is in the range of 400 calls.

    Even though the Article V Convention process has never been used to amend the Constitution, the number of states applying for a convention has nearly reached the required threshold several times. Congress has proposed amendments to the Constitution on several occasions, at least in part, because of the threat of an Article V Convention. Rather than risk such a convention taking control of the amendment process away from it, Congress acted pre-emptively to propose the amendments instead. The Bill of Rights, which includes the first ten amendments, as well as the Twenty-seventh Amendment, were proposed in part because of a Convention application by the New York and Virginia legislatures at the suggestion of a letter from the New York State Convention to ratify the Constitution. The Convention would have been limited to those changes discussed at the various State ratifying Conventions. At least four other amendments (the Seventeenth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, and Twenty-Fifth Amendments) have been identified as being proposed by Congress at least partly in response to the threat of an Article V convention, bringing the total to 15 out of 27, a majority of the Amendments.

    Direct election of Senators

    In the late 1890s, the House of Representatives passed multiple resolutions for a constitutional amendment providing for direct election of senators. The Senate refused to consider those resolutions. In 1893, Nebraska filed the first Article V application for direct election of senators. By 1911, 29 states had Article V convention applications on file for an amendment providing for direct election of senators, just two short of the 31-state threshold. As new states were being added the threshold increased, however those States had already passed resolutions supporting such a Convention. The final count is somewhat uncertain, but when either one or two further states were required the Senate finally conceded and passed its version of an amendment in May 1911, which was then approved by the House in 1912 and submitted to the states.

    Congressional apportionment

    There have been two nearly successful attempts to amend the Constitution via an Article V Convention since the late 1960s. The first try was an attempt to propose an amendment that would overturn two Supreme Court decisions, Wesberry v. Sanders and Reynolds v. Sims, decisions that required states to adhere to the one man, one vote principle in drawing electoral districts for state and federal elections. The attempt fell only one state short of reaching the 34 needed to force Congress to call a convention in 1969, but ended by the death of its main promoter Senator Everett Dirksen. After this peak, several states (whose legislatures by this point had been re-engineered in the wake of the rulings) rescinded their applications, and interest in the proposed amendment subsided.

    Balanced budget

    In response to increasing federal deficits, a movement in the 1970s by the states to impose fiscal discipline on the federal government began. Between 1975 and 1979, thirty states petitioned Congress for a convention to write a balanced budget amendment. By 1983, the number of applications had reached 32, only two states short of the 34 needed to force such a convention. In addition, at least four states (California, Illinois, Kentucky, and Montana) had adopted resolutions requesting that Congress propose a deficit spending amendment. California and Montana were set to hold ballot initiatives that would have forced their legislatures to file convention applications, but state courts ruled the two ballot initiatives unconstitutional, and the effort stalled. Enthusiasm for the amendment subsided in response to fears that an Article V Convention could not be limited to a single subject and because Congress passed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act in 1985 (The act was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1986 but Congress enacted a reworked version of the law in 1987). By 1989, two states (Alabama and Florida) had rescinded their applications. Similar recisions were passed in Nevada (1989), Louisiana (1991), Colorado (1992), Oregon (1999), Idaho (2000), Utah, (2001), North Dakota (2001) Wyoming (2001), Arizona (2003) and Georgia (2004).

    Recently the movement has seen a revival. On November 20, 2013, the Ohio General Assembly applied to Congress for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. This effort made Ohio the 20th state to join a push for a national convention of states. On March 26, 2014, the Michigan Legislature applied to Congress for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment, making Michigan the 22nd to participate in the national effort. On April 27, 2016, the Oklahoma Senate approved an Article V convention on a balanced budget amendment, making Oklahoma the 29th state to participate in the national effort. On November 7, 2017, the Wisconsin Legislature approved an Article V convention resolution for a balanced budget amendment.

    Campaign finance

    A political action committee called Wolf-PAC emerged from New York's Occupy Wall Street movement in October 2011. Wolf-PAC calls for a convention of states in order to propose a constitutional amendment that addresses the issue of campaign finance. The resolution reads "Corporations are not people. They have none of the Constitutional rights of human beings. Corporations are not allowed to give money to any politician, directly or indirectly. No politician can raise over $100 from any person or entity. All elections must be publicly financed."

    As of 2019, Wolf-PAC's application had been passed in five states: Vermont, Illinois, California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.

    Convention of States Project

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    The conservative group Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) is engaged in an ongoing effort to call an Article V Convention. Through its "Convention of States Project," CSG is seeking "to urge and empower state legislators to call a Convention of States." CSG states that it initiated the Convention of States project "for the purpose of stopping the runaway power of the federal government." Mark Levin has supported CSG's efforts to a call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the constitution.

    In December 2013, nearly 100 legislators from 32 states met at Mount Vernon to talk about how to call a convention of states. According to Slate, "The meeting lasted four hours, ending when legislators agreed to meet again in the spring of 2014. That's the most progress anyone's made in decades toward a states-first constitutional amendment campaign."

    In February 2014, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn announced that after his retirement from Congress, he would focus on promoting the Convention of States to state legislatures. In December 2015, Marco Rubio endorsed CSG's efforts to a call an Article V Convention. In January 2016, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for a Convention of States to restrict the power of the federal government.

    In June 2017, former U.S. Senator and former Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint announced his role as a Senior Adviser for the Convention of States project.

    In September 2016, CSG held a simulated convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution in Williamsburg, Virginia. An assembly of 137 delegates representing every state gathered to conduct a simulated convention. The simulated convention passed amendments relating to six topics, including requiring the states to approve any increase in the national debt, imposing term limits, restricting the scope of the Commerce Clause, limiting the power of federal regulations, requiring a supermajority to impose federal taxes and repealing the 16th Amendment, and giving the states the power to abrogate any federal law, regulation, or executive order.

    As of 2019, CSG's application for a Convention of States has been passed in 15 states.

    Single Subject Amendment PAC

    A Super PAC called Single Subject Amendment registered with the Federal Election Commission on March 1, 2013. It is actively engaged in an effort to call an Article V Convention for the limited purpose of proposing an amendment to provide every law enacted by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be clearly expressed in the bill's title. Forty-one state constitutions have a single subject provision but this provision is not in the United States Constitution. In April 2014, Florida became the first state to make an application for an Article V Convention to constitutionally prohibit unrelated riders in Congress.


    Additional Reading

  • [reference]:  Synopsis of Dark Money Campaign Financing and U.S. Constitution Article V Reform.


  • [2020-04-22]:  The anti-quarantine protests seem spontaneous. But behind the scenes, a powerful network is helping


    Additional Reading


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