Constitutional nerds like myself should definitely check out this policy report from the Goldwater Institute about the founder’s vision for constitutional convention. If you’re like me, you’ve always been a little bit cautious about the idea of having open-heart surgery on one of our nation’s founding documents.
But the folks at Goldwater provide some necessary perspective:
Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the states have the power to apply to Congress to hold a convention for the purpose of proposing constitutional amendments. This power was meant to provide a fail-safe mechanism to control the federal government.
This report demonstrates that the historical record during the Founding era establishes a clear roadmap to guide the Article V amendment process. Among other seminal discoveries, this report reveals that the Framers rejected drafts of Article V that contemplated the very kind of wide-open convention that could “run away,” substituting instead a provision for a limited-scope convention, attended by state-chosen delegates, and addressed to specific subject matters.
Of course, abuses of the Article V constitutional amendment process are possible. But that possibility must be viewed against the clear and present danger to individual rights and freedom of doing nothing. This report recommends that states seriously consider initiating the Article V constitutional amendment process to restrain the federal government.
This is a particularly timely topic for discussion in Arkansas as Republican legislators recently announced their support for a National Debt Relief Amendment, which does in fact call for a constitutional convention.
Sure, there is plenty to be afraid of when you’re talking about giving people who want to cede state authority to the federal government a scalpel and letting them operate on our nation’s most precious organ, but perhaps, if we’re about to suffer a massive heart attack, a few stints are necessary.