- State legislators from across the country gathered in Williamsburg, VA, on Thursday for a simulated Article V Convention to debate new amendments to the Constitution.
- Article V of the Constitution specifies that Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments” upon the application of two thirds of the states.
- Convention of States President Mark Meckler told the Daily Caller News Foundation a real convention would be the “biggest political event” in American history.
Williamsburg, VA — Surrounded by echoes of America’s founding era, legislators from nearly every state met Thursday for a trial run of what the organizers say could be the “biggest political event” in American history — an Article V Convention.
Article V of the Constitution details a way for states to propose new amendments and place a check on the federal government: upon the application of two thirds of the states, it specifies that Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments.” The convention in Williamsburg is just a simulation — to date, only 19 of the 34 states required to call a real one have approved applications — but participants feel certain it is “setting the stage for something really big.”
“The year before our 1787 convention there was a convention in Annapolis in 1786, which was a bit of a precursor,” Mike Ruthenberg, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Convention of States (COS), told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We certainly think of that when we think of this simulated convention right here.”
Following the election of a convention president, commissioners split into three committees to debate: the Committee on Federal Legislative & Executive Jurisdiction, the Committee on Fiscal Restraints, and the Committee on Term Limits & Federal Judicial Jurisdiction.
The model Convention of States resolution passed by 19 states calls for a convention to propose amendments that “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”
COS President Mark Meckler told the DCNF he hopes legislators in attendance come away “comfortable with the process” and “advocates for the use of the article.” If the idea gains enough traction for 34 state legislatures to call for a real convention, Meckler said it will be “the biggest political event in the history of the United States of America.”
“I think it’ll be bigger than the Super Bowl or the World Series or the Indy 500 or any of these things, probably all of them combined,” he said. “I think it’s going to be the greatest constitutional education project in the history of the United States of America at a time when we desperately need constitutional education.”
The movement has momentum, with more states on the verge of passing COS resolutions. “The closest one right now is North Carolina,” Meckler said. “We’ve already passed the House and are pending in the Senate.”
Looking toward next year, Meckler said COS is “really strong” in the Mountain states—Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
COS got its start nearly ten years ago, Ruthenberg said, when he and Meckler met with Michael Farris in Scottsdale, Arizona, “to hear about an idea that “will save the nation.”
“Article V is easy to read and figure out, and so I basically said, why don’t we do this?” Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and former CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), told the DCNF.
The article is the outworking of “the structural changes that the Founders believed in so strongly as the principal protection against erosion [of] our liberty,” Farris said.
“Article V is a long term game and what needs to happen to teach the government that they don’t have unlimited power, that they have a boss, and the boss is the states and the people,” he told the DCNF.
Critics sometimes worry about a “runaway convention” where commissioners make proposals outside the bounds of the set subject matter. But Meckler notes anything that comes out of the convention still has to be ratified by 38 states.
“When people say they’re worried about a runaway convention, I often say, well, I’ll give you my personal email address, and you write to me and tell me the amendment that you’re worried about. And then list the 38 states that you think will ratify that amendment,” Meckler said. “I’ve never received that email.”
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