The US Is Halfway To A New Constitutional Convention

by Grant Piper

17 states have called for a meeting to amend the Constitution

If you want something done right, do it yourself. That is the attitude of a growing number of states when it comes to amending the US Constitution. Up until now, every amendment to the document has come through Congress. Lately, Congress has not been a very effective or popular body. Recent polling data has Congress’s approval rating at just 18% which is near historic lows. 80% of Americans disapprove of Congress.

There is no faith that the current governing body in Washington will be able to fix the nation’s problems.

That is why the states are aiming to do it.

Article V of the Constitution states that 2/3rds of the many states can convene a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. In today’s terms that means that 34 states need to sign on to launch the convention.

38 states are needed to ratify any proposed amendments. All of these motions must pass the states’ legislatures in order to move forward.

Nebraska makes 17

Nebraska became the most recent state to pass a resolution agreeing to convene a constitutional convention. Wisconsin signed a similar resolution just days before the Nebraska vote. That brings the number of states that have signed on to 17 which is half of the 34 states needed to advance the convention.

As gridlock and animosity continue to paralyze Washington more people believe that the state legislatures will do a better job of reforming the country than Congress. But there is still a long ways to go to reach the 34 needed to convene. Hope is growing among proponents that as more states sign on, this movement will begin to snowball and pick up much needed momentum.

Proposed amendments

No hard amendments have been proposed but the three topics that are generating the most attention all focus on Congress’s power. There is some appetite to introduce term limits for Representatives and Senators. Many states want to constrict Congress’s power to borrow and spend. Republican legislatures have proposed amorphous “restrictions” on Federal power over State power.

No wording has been finalized and no drafts have appeared.

The mood seems to be, on both sides of the aisle, that Congress is a bloated mess. In the current political climate few voters would object if the states wrested away some control back from the most unpopular branch of government.

Likelihood of success

Despite the recent gains towards a new constitutional convention led by the states, they are still far off the mark. Even if a convention was convened, there is no guarantee that anything constructive would get done. 38 states is a high bar to pass for ratifying any amendments.

The other problems arise from the fact that the entrenched political class in Washington will do everything in their power to prevent the states from taking their power. As a wise fictional tyrant once said: All those who gain power are afraid to lose it. Even your sitting Congressman.

Still, many can agree that the country has been lurching down some bad paths. There are many systems — from healthcare to the electoral college to congressional stock trading — that everyone can agree needs some kind of reform. And Congress can’t (or won’t) get anything meaningful accomplished.

Maybe the states will do a better job.

If you like the idea of a state-led constitutional convention call your STATE REPRESENTATIVE. Not your federal representative. Look up who your local state senator or representative is. These resolutions must pass the state legislature.

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