As state legislative sessions begin, right-wing groups are ramping up a nationwide campaign to convene a constitutional convention to propose amendments that would strip the federal government of much of its power to invest in national priorities and protect civil rights.
As respected legal voices in the states, ACS members can help defeat this campaign by educating policymakers and the public (through op-eds, testimony and the like) about its radical goals and misleading claims.
Here’s the background. Under Article V of the Constitution, Congress must call a convention to propose constitutional amendments if two-thirds of the states formally request one. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many states passed resolutions calling for a convention to propose a federal balanced budget amendment. At one point, 32 states had passed resolutions along these lines, close to the 34 states required. But over the next 25 years, no more states passed resolutions and half of the states that had passed resolutions formally rescinded them, fearing that a convention would throw open the Constitution to harmful changes.
The tide turned in 2010 as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its allies began pushing anew for state resolutions. Since then, eight states have adopted new resolutions calling for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. Some proponents claim that 24 states have “live” applications, including those passed in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s but never rescinded. They’ve targeted another 15 states for the coming year.