A 'runaway' Article V Convention?
Article V of the Constitution gives the states the power to control the federal government through the amendment process. It has never been used. That’s about to change. The stars are aligned, and the time for Article V has arrived.
With 31 Republican state legislatures, an Article V Amendment Convention would be dominated by the most conservative elected officials in the country. Twenty-seven of the required 34 states have passed resolutions calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment. Wisconsin will make 28 later this year. Eight Republican-controlled legislatures are targeted for 2016 (South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona).
Republican opposition in these states is founded on fears that an amendment convention would go beyond the scope of the call for a BBA and propose amendments undermining our constitutional rights, particularly the Second Amendment. Arizona Senate president Andy Biggs is the leader of this opposition and has authored The Con of the Con-Con.
On the other side, one of the most prominent advocates of an Article V Balanced Budget Amendment is Ohio Senate president Keith Faber. On July 25, at his invitation, a group of state legislators met in San Diego to discuss ways to counter the fears of a runaway convention. House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte addressed the meeting to encourage its work. Georgia Senate majority leader Bill Cowsert proposed a resolution, which passed unanimously, declaring that all voting at any Article V Convention would be conducted on a one state, one vote basis, that a BBA convention would consider one and only one amendment – to balance the budget – and that any delegate who violated these principles should be recalled and sanctioned.
As Senator Biggs points out in his book, an amendment convention is not subject to external control and could theoretically “run away.” Senator Faber is trying to convince him not that this couldn’t happen, but that it won’t. Republican strength in our state legislatures, at levels not seen in 85 years, assures that. The men and women who will select and serve as delegates, control their delegations, and control the convention are the strongest constitutional conservatives in the country.
At one point in his book, Senator Biggs writes, “It isn’t the process that will produce a runaway convention, but it is the personnel attending the gathering.” He goes on to state, “When we start electing people who are committed to individual freedom, we will know that the time is soon coming when it is safe to convene an Article V Convention.” Senator Faber and dozens of other legislative leaders are trying to convince him that the personnel who will attend and control the convention are, in fact, dedicated to individual freedom, and that what might have been a legitimate concern at some point in the past is no longer a concern today.
If the Constitution is to be restored, it will be done with Article V, just as the Framers intended. Realistically, there’s no other way.
Fritz Pettyjohn is a former Alaska state legislator and a co-founder of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force. He blogs at his website, ReaganProject.com.