An Article V Convention Is A Great Idea……If You Want To Destroy The Republic

Article V to the U.S. Constitution lays out two methods for amending the Constitution:

  1. Congress passes an amendment by two-thirds vote and sends it to the states for ratification
  2. Two-thirds of state legislatures pass a resolution call for a convention to propose amendments, that would be sent to the states for ratification.

Amendments proposed either way have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. All 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by the first way. However, many conservatives are calling for an Article V Convention of The States to curb what they see is a Federal government that refuses to deal with a debt crisis, regulatory overreach, infringements upon state sovereignty, and Federal government overreach. Other Article V proposals include the “liberty amendments” that were proposed in 2013 by conservative talk show host and constitutional attorney Mark Levin.

However, without dealing with the specifics of the proposals laid out by those who are supporting an Article V convention, I believe that an Article V convention is a terrible approach to amending the constitution and in fact will likely result in a less free America.

The first problem with the Article V convention is that it’s never been tried before, with good reason. Matthew Spalding wrote this for the Daily Signal:

The requirement that amendments proposed by such a convention must be ratified by three-fourths of the states is a significant limit on the process and would likely prevent a true “runaway” convention from fundamentally altering the Constitution. But we don’t think it is at all clear, for instance, that two-thirds of the states calling for an amendments convention can limit the power of all the states assembled in that convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Other questions include the many practical aspects of how an amending convention would operate and whether any aspects of such a convention (including going beyond its instructions) would be subject to judicial review.



Which leads to the second problem with an Article V convention, which is that everything will be on the table. The New American magazine reports that at least one progressive PAC is calling for an Article V convention in order to pass an amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision. In addition, progressive Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has released a wish list of amendments. In an Article V convention, all of these things can be considered and what may result if a series of proposed of amendments reflecting a populist smorgasbord of proposals designed to cobble together the support of 37 states.

The third reason why an Article V convention should be rejected is that all of these proposed changes can be accomplished through the normal Congressional amendment process. An Article V convention should be reserved just for national emergencies given all the inherent unknowns that would be involved. No one in their right minds can credibly argue that any issue we’re facing right now that an Article V convention would remedy is truly a national crisis that needs to be solved with the dramatic step of a constitutional amendment, let alone one passed in this measure.

The final reason why liberty-lovers should reject an Article V convention is that it essentially is a shortcut to doing the hard work of persuading fellow Americans and our representatives that we need to make these changes. What the Article V proponents are essentially trying to do is to overturn 80 years of election results without actually putting in the hard work of persuading fellow Americans that they should make the changes. If they could not convince the American people to endorse this agenda in an election, how are they going to convince 37 states to endorse these ideas?

An Article V convention is a radical measure that will, unfortunately, provide a platform for populist demagogues to promote their agenda to the detriment of liberty. Need I remind everyone that the original mandate of what became the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 was merely to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead, it produced a brand new governing document. It’s just as likely that an Article V convention will produce a constitution that will radically different than what its proponents advocate.

In the end, there’s just simply too much risk and too many unknowns surrounding the Article V convention to go down that road.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
  • AWCheney

    The greatest argument AGAINST an Article V Convention for those who believe in freedom, our Republic, the Constitution of the United States, and the United States of America as our Founders envisioned it is the fact that George Soros is heavily pushing for that Article V Convention behind the scenes, and those things in which we believe are what he would have destroyed! It would be much more logical for us to clean our house first by Constitutional means which will not endanger the document that Soros’ minions, such as Obama, would destroy…beginning with impeachment proceedings which would tumble the house of cards Obama has built. WHY did we elect a majority from the opposition party in the House and Senate to enforce that Constitution if they will not display the knowledge, courage, and love of country that we expected, but are simply continuing to play the same games with Obama as they did before? Does anybody really believe that we actually have people in this country, where a despot was elected TWICE, with the intelligence, integrity, and honor of the caliber of the Founding Fathers who could be trusted with tearing down and rebuilding that Constitution? If we do, where have they been?

  • Steven Geller

    @AWCheney: There is zero actual evidence that George Soros is pushing for an Article V Convention. He gives some money to an umbrella organization of Leftwing media groups, but it does not appear that he affects their content. Some of these groups would like to see a Convention on their pet issues but not necessarily on other issues. Other groups on this list are against a Convention. This is a very weak connection from Soros to an Article V Convention movement, and every source I have seen that connects the two connects them through this one tenuous link. Soros also donates directly to the ACLU, which steadfastly opposes a Convention (and has sent representatives to Congressional hearings to state their opposition). There is also an allegation that Soros has donated to Mark Levin on behalf of the Convention of States movement, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this either, and it wouldn’t make much sense for Soros’ financial, political or ideological concerns. There are plenty of Leftwing groups he could directly donate to if he wanted this. It makes for a convenient conspiracy theory to associate George Soros with every movement that the Right wants to fearmonger about, usually for their own unrelated purposes, but it does not appear that he supports this movement.