Arizona and five other states are considering use of their power under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to initiate an amendments convention. With the federal debt exceeding $14 trillion, I believe nothing short of state-initiated constitutional reform will stop the impending fiscal train wreck.
Critics of an Article V amendments convention claim the states could unleash a runaway “constitutional convention” by exercising their Article V powers. But the states do not have authority under Article V to call a “constitutional convention.” Indeed, the words “constitutional convention” appear nowhere in the Constitution.
The power of the states to call an amendments convention is no greater than the power of Congress to propose amendments. Both amendment powers operate within the existing limitations of the Constitution. Any proposed constitutional amendment, whether arising from Congress or from an amendments convention, must still be ratified by 38 states.
Opposition to states using their Article V power boils down to a belief that Congress is more trustworthy than the states when it comes to proposing constitutional amendments. I disagree. Congress is driving our nation toward a financial cliff. The states must take the wheel.
Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.
Goldwater Institute: Amending the Constitution by Convention: A Complete View of the Founders’ Plan
Goldwater Institute: 10 Facts to Rebut the Mythology of a Runaway Convention
RestoringFreedom.org: The National Debt Relief Amendment