As the national debt continues to grow, states are looking for ways to rein in Washington's out of control spending. Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to call an amendments convention. If at least 34 states call for a convention, they could consider the National Debt Relief Amendment. The NDRA contains 18 simple, yet extremely powerful words — "An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States.” Three-fourths of the states, 38 of them, would have to vote to approve the NDRA or any amendment considered at an amendments convention.
Through historical texts and records the Goldwater Institute's constitutional scholars have determined that fears of an Article V amendments convention "running away" are unfounded. The U.S. Constitution would not be rewritten by delegates to such a convention. The Goldwater Institute has studied and written extensively about Article V and the National Debt Relief Amendment. We've also cited original sources from the Founders that show their approval of and advocacy for an amendments convention, as well as articles from other sources that have also researched Article V. A complete list follows.
Goldwater Institute Sources:
Senior Fellow Robert G. Natelson looks at the history of Article V and how states can use it to call an amendments convention in this series:
Learning from Experience: How the States Used Article V Applications in America's First Century (Part 2 in a Series)
Amending the Constitution by Convention: Practical Guidance for Citizens and Policymakers (Part 3 in a series)
You've heard that an amendments convention can lead to drastic changes to the Constitution. Here the Goldwater Institute sets the record straight:
Goldwater Institute constitutional attorney Nick Dranias gave a presentation on Article V at a Goldwater Institute event on February 25, 2011. Watch Parts 1 and 2 below:
Goldwater Institute Constitutional Attorney Nick Dranias wrote a series of Daily Emails which explore the use of Article V, the National Debt Relief Amendment, how states can call an amendments convention, and why they should:
No matter who controls Congress, the federal government has been incapable of putting its fiscal house in order.
When it comes to the balance of power between the federal and state governments, the feds have a stronghold. Though no single avenue exists that would return power to the states, one potent remedy must not be ignored.
The Founding Fathers put a fail-safe mechanism in the Constitution that gives states the power to rein in an out-of-control federal government--Article V. It is high time for the states to use it.
If the states choose to exercise their authority over the federal government through the Article V amendment process, history shows a “runway” convention just won’t happen.
Thomas Jefferson worried that one thing missing from the newly minted Constitution was some kind of limit on federal debt. Fortunately, President Jefferson’s wish can be a reality through the use of Article V.
Any effort to call for an amendments convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution must “make the sale” to 34 state legislatures and “close the deal” with 38 states to ratify any amendment. Resolutions to apply for a convention must consider the political appeal of potential suggestions. The National Debt Relief Amendment sets the standard for a highly marketable idea.
As America's debt approaches $14 trillion, it may seem like there is nothing that can be done to stop and reverse the mounting crisis. But 18 words could change all that.
Nick Dranias has just one New Year's resolution this year. He wants to see an amendments convention that would reign in the federal government's out-of-control spending.
Congress is driving our nation toward a financial cliff and the states must take the wheel. The best way is for states to use their power to call an amendments convention and consider the National Debt Relief Amendment to help end out-of-control spending.
The National Debt Relief Amendment would empower the states to control federal spending. So why are some of the most conservative lawmakers in the Arizona legislature refusing to allow a full vote on the NDRA? It's because they have been given bad information.
Nick Dranias was part of a news conference in which it was announced that the Arizona legislature would be joining other states in considering calling for an Article V amendments convention.
Restoring Freedom Sources:
RestoringFreedom.org is a Texas-based non-profit formed in 2009 that wrote the language for the National Debt Relief Amendment.
About Restoring Freedom.org and the National Debt Relief Amendment:
Read the model legislation state legislatures can adopt to call for an amendments convention:
Goldwater Institute experts discuss their thoughts on RestoringFreedom's National Debt Relief Amendment:
Still have questions about the National Debt Relief Amendment? RestoringFreedom answers them in their FAQ's section:
Perhaps the most convincing evidence that an Article V amendments convention can be a safe and effective way to control the national debt is by looking at original sources written by the Founders. Their intent for Article V is clear.
The plain language of Article V of the U.S. Constitution on the states' right to call an amendments convention is very distinct:
Proof that an Article V convention is not a general constitutional convention (Founders’ repeated rejection of open convention language for Article V during 1787 Constitutional Convention):
In James Madison's Federalist No. 43 he writes "It, moreover, equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other":
In Federalist No. 85, Alexandar Hamilton writes "We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority":
In a letter from George Washington to John Armstrong, the future first president writes "It should be remembered that a constitutional door is open for such amendments as shall be thought necessary by nine States":
In James Madison's Report On The Virginia Resolutions, House of Delegates (pg 501-02), he writes "...or two thirds of themselves (states), if such had been their opinion, might, by an application to Congress, have obtained a convention for the same object":
James Madison's letter on Nullification also made reference to the Article V amendment process when he writes "the final resort within the purview of the Constitution, lies in an amendment of the Constitution, according to a process applicable by the states":
Along with the Goldwater Institute, RestoringFreedom, and the Founding Fathers themselves, other organizations have weighed in on the Article V amendments convention process.
The idea of an Article V amendments convention is nothing new. In 1988 the Heritage Foundation published a report showing numerous safeguards are in place that would keep such a convention from "running away." In fact, Heritage calls a state-called amendments convention safer than Congress proposing amendments.
U.S. Justice Department: Legal opinion that Article V authorizes a limited subject amendments convention
In 1979, the U.S. Justice Department wrote a legal opinion that Article V of the Constitution authorizes a limited subject amendments convention.
Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Robert G. Natelson explores James Madison's view that an Article V convention was a powerful and constitutional way to guard against federal governmental excesses.
Is it really that important that we get federal spending under control? Just one look at the U.S. Debt Clock and the answer is an obvious 'yes'.
World Net Daily:
For further information about an Article V amendments convention, please contact Nick Dranias at email@example.com.