America is now in a place financially that our economy and way of life are genuinely threatened, and there is blame to go around.
The political parties are clearly not able to agree on areas of federal spending to reduce, and so the deeply concerning matters of an annual $1.6 trillion dollar budget deficit, some $17 trillion in national debt and approximately $90 trillion in other unfunded liabilities are going unaddressed.
Our federal Leviathan is simply not able to rein itself in and live within its means, and that has a corrosive effect on our ability to pursue the American Dream.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the framers of our Constitution, in their genius, have provided a method by which the states, at the urging of their citizens, can force the federal government to begin to live within its means. That method is the second method of amending the Constitution, contained in Article V.
Unlike the first method of amending our Constitution, which requires both houses of the U.S. Congress to propose amendments, the second method does not.
How exactly does this second method work? Simply, by having the legislatures of two-thirds (34) of our states make an application, a demand, calling for an amendment convention for the proposing of amendments. To get the ball rolling all a state like Louisiana, Texas or Vermont would need to do is have their state legislatures pass legislation, a resolution, calling for an amendment convention.
If that happens, Congress then has no choice and must call for a convention. In other words, it doesn’t matter what the House or the Senate want to do or not do or even how the president feels about it, a convention must be called.
Very importantly, once an amendment, (for example, a balanced budget amendment forcing the federal government to live within its means) has been proposed it cannot become a part of the Constitution unless it has been ratified by three-fourths (38) of our states. Thirty eight states must agree. That’s a lot. This means that if 13 states don’t ratify a proposed amendment, that amendment does not become a part of the constitution.
It is very important that I address the main argument in opposition to an amendment convention.
The principal argument against it is that “we will have a runaway convention” or “we’ll destroy or hijack the Constitution and lose our rights.” That’s wrong.
Why? Because as I mentioned earlier, all that occurs at an amendment convention is the proposing of an amendment (s). However, again, three-fourths (38) of the states must ratify the amendment or it does not become part of the Constitution. Period.
It was critically important that the states were given this substantial power through our state legislatures individually, and then acting collectively when 34 states move together, to constrain the federal government. In fact, the very reason the framers sought this second method driven by the states is because they recognized and feared that an oppressive federal government which had ballooned well beyond its enumerated powers to the colossus we live under today, would not be likely to reform itself.
They were right, and we are at a time in our nation’s history that we may have no choice but to turn back to the Constitution in order to preserve our country as we know it. Article V provides a powerful way, and perhaps the only way, to do so.
Royal Alexander, an attorney in Shreveport, is the president of the Red River Tea Party. This article originally appeared in the Shreveport Times.