The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Did you watch the recent Presidential Debate and walk away with a renewed hope for the American Experiment? When you laid your head on your pillow to sleep, did you feel at ease that the Democratic or Republican Presidential nominee would “fix” everything as soon as he or she is inaugurated? Neither did I.
How often do you watch the news and go to bed angry, feeling like you are losing our country? Are you frustrated at another ill-advised program from the Executive Branch? How about Congress or the Supreme Court? The Federal Government is out of touch and out of control, and the voting public knows it. In fact, 65.3% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.
The problems are manifold and too many Congressional leaders seem uninterested in tackling the big problems. What are the American people left to do?
A Convention of States
Last week, I was in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, for the Convention of States Project (CoS), Article V Convention Simulation, as a witness to history. As far as we are aware, Missouri Alliance for Freedom was the only “outside organization” in the country that was invited to participate in the historic CoS simulation.
It was an honor to observe the process work and witness the genius of our Founders play out some 229 years after the Constitution was framed. Watching Commissioners from all 50 States, comprised mostly of state legislators, participate in a simulated Article V Convention, proposing and debating amendments to the Constitution of the United States, I was impressed by how serious these men and women took their responsibility to the Constitution and posterity in a mock session. It gave me cause for hope.
Legislation, for which we have advocated, that serves as an application to call for a Convention of States has been proposed in Missouri the last two legislative sessions. It has passed both chambers of the Missouri Legislature, just not in the same year.
The intent of Missouri’s legislation is simply to do our small, but substantial, part and call for a Convention to propose amendments. It does not call for a Constitutional Convention, as some have falsely stated, and that is an important distinction to make. Once Missouri passes the resolution, we wait until a minimum of 34 have passed it before anything else happens.
Once a real Convention is called, various amendments will be proposed, debated, and passed or not passed.
Amendments, like a 3/5 majority of states being able to abrogate burdensome federal laws/rules, imposing Congressional term limits, or clarifying the Commerce Clause so it is not the catch-all that it is today, are examples of amendments that will probably be proposed and debated. If passed in Convention, the individual states will then have to ratify each one by a three fourths majority (38) of the states. It is as close to a fail-safe process as we can get in politics and it was intentionally designed that way.
There are eight states that have already passed a call or application for a Convention of States to propose amendments. Nine (including Missouri) have passed it out of at least one chamber. This is a nationwide grassroots movement with thousands of grassroots organizers, legislators, and donors in all 50 states pushing for a solution as big as the problem.
Article V is a Constitutional tool given to us by the Founders whereby states can assert themselves to balance and check the power of a federal government run amuck.
A big solution
This is an ambitious project. Thirty-four states passing almost identical applications for a Convention of States is a heavy lift by any stretch of the imagination. That is why it has never been accomplished in all of American history. This time is different for several reasons. American frustration with the federal government is unprecedented. That level of frustration is feeding a vast grassroots army organized by the Convention of States Project that is actively working in over forty states. If 34 states call for a Convention, we will make history. Remember, it has already passed in 8 states, and there is optimism that it will pass in 10 to 12 states in 2017. Momentum is building.
In the 2017 legislative session, Missouri should do its part by finally passing legislation like Rep. Eric Burlison’s call for a Convention of States (HCR57). It is time to give the people a voice and use the Constitution to rein in the federal government.