One State, One Vote, One Amendment
by Fritz Pettyjohn, fpettyjohn@Hotmail.com
Describing efforts to counter the fear of 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. 27 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.*
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 25th, 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. This Resolution will be circulated among legislative leaders who were not present, with the goal of obtaining at least 31 legislative leaders in at least 31 states.
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.
While a Balanced Budget Amendment has broad bipartisan support, most Americans have never heard of Article V. They don’t realize that the Framers foresaw the possibility of a corrupt and dysfunctional federal government incapable of reform, and included Article V as a means for the States to deal with it. When the States created the federal government in 1787 they reserved to themselves the authority to control it. That authority is contained in Article V. Once the people realize this option is open, they will demand that it be exercised. The realization may start to sink in at the Republican debate in Cleveland on August 6th, where an Article V BBA will likely be one of the topics of discussion. If Gov. John Kasich participates, this will almost certainly be the case.
Oddly enough, it is staunch conservatives like Andy Biggs who are blocking an Article V solution to a federal government run amok. In their minds, they are protecting the Constitution. Once they realize that their fears are unfounded we’ll reach the 34 state threshold, and the first Article V Convention in American history will take place.
We will not only balance the budget, we’ll return to Constitutional government. One successful Convention will be followed by others, dealing with other areas where the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have strayed from Constitutional principles.
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.
*South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona.