ACF STRATEGIC INITIATIVE
The convening of the States in Convention to Propose Amendments to the Constitution is historic, is disruptive to centralized power and is threatening to the Administrative State. If the States exercise this delegated power to return parity in governing, Article V will restore the construct of governing in America. It will move the cheese. Expect the swamp to go apoplectic.
Condition of Today’s Article V Movement
Today’s Article V movement, comprised of approximately 15 organizations, is working to convince States to use a Convention of the States to correct the transgressions of the Administrative State. The American Constitution Foundation (ACF) and its associates have been involved in the Article V movement since 2013 in leadership capacities in several Article V movement organizations. Those familiar with the Article V movement are aware of those Article V organizations that have made the most progress; the problems they have encountered; and, in some cases, problems they have created for themselves.
Article V movement organization members are patriots and they have laid the ground work and created momentum for a Convention of the States; however, our Article V organizations have also created unnecessary controversy, competition and divisiveness which has complicated and exacerbated the already difficult task of amassing the necessary 34 state applications for a Convention of the States as prescribed in the United States Constitution.
In their passion for immediate change, these Article V organizations are each presenting their pet amendments, wrapped into a single subject convention application, (i.e., Term Limits, BBA or balanced budget, COS [Convention of States], etc.) and are lobbying State Legislators and State Policy Network (SPN) think tanks to support their amendment(s) and application - in some cases to the exclusion of their Article V movement competitors. One organization was successful in getting the State of Tennessee to cancel its planned July 2017 BBA Planning Convention of the States, which would have been very beneficial to all Article V organizations and to the public and our State legislators. The Planning Convention eventually met in Arizona with delegates from a handful of States participating. There are other instances of more competition than cooperation like the Tennessee fight.
This proposed multiplicity of amendments and single subject convention applications have resulted in the following:
- Intimidating State Legislators with multiple amendments and multiple applications
- Increasing the difficulty of holding a “Convention to Propose Amendments” by unnecessarily increasing the complexity of convening a convention
- Reducing the ability to secure bipartisan State legislator support for a Convention by prematurely introducing amendments that are perceived to be partisan
- Failing to recognize the need to secure bipartisan support (Note: Securing 34 applications for a convention or the 38 states to ratify amendment(s), without bipartisan support, is unlikely.)
- Confusing the public by complicating the issue (Occam’s Razor – keep it simple.)
- Unnecessarily making Article V a minefield for State Legislator reelection by attaching amendments to applications for a Convention (Note: It is safer for a State Legislator to vote for a Convention of the States to Propose Amendments (a general convention) than to announce to constituents that Legislator is voting for an application tied to a specific amendment, an amendment to which those constituents (or a Legislator) may object.
Forcing single subject applications on State Legislators shows contempt by intimating they do not have the ability to act in Convention to consider and deliberate multiple amendments and therefore must be constrained to a single subject Convention (thereby intimating State Legislators are less capable than members of Congress).