When the Framers drafted the Constitution in 1787 they knew their work would be imperfect, and would require amendment. So Congress was empowered to propose amendments with a 2/3 vote, with ratification of ¾ of the states also required. All of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been the result of this process.
But what if the needed amendment involved a reform of Congress itself? What if the vast powers vested in Congress needed to be somehow curtailed? Congress might well refuse to propose an amendment to reform itself. Then what?
An alternative method was included in Article V of the Constitution. If 2/3 of the state legislatures passed resolutions calling for a Amendment Convention, where the proposed amendment would be drafted, Congress would be obligated to call such an Convention. Any proposed amendment drafted by the delegates would need ratification by ¾ of the states.
In response to reckless deficit spending by Congress, a movement began among the state legislatures to pass resolutions calling for an Amendment Convention to propose an amendment calling for fiscal reform of the Congress. There are varying estimates of the number of valid Article V resolutions which have passed, are valid, and can be aggregated to achieve the needed 2/3. Some legal scholars believe that there are currently in effect the 34 resolutions needed. Others disagree, and believe the number is less than 34. It’s up to Congress to make this decision, but Congress refuses to make the count, so no one knows for sure.
Congressmen of both political parties are hostile to the power of state legislatures to propose amendments to the Constitution. It’s a power they would prefer to reserve for themselves. So they refuse to even count the number of state resolutions which are valid. As a result no one knows, for sure, where the movement for a fiscal reform amendment stands. Has the 2/3 requirement been met? If not, how many more resolutions are needed?
In order to determine this question it is necessary for the federal courts to issue an order requiring Congress to conduct a count of the valid Article V resolutions. The Alaska legislature passed an Article V Resolution calling for a fiscal reform Amendment Convention 40 years ago. Thus the state has standing to file such a lawsuit, seeking a writ of mandamus from the court ordering Congress to do its duty under Article V, and to conduct a count of the fiscal reform Amendment resolutions.
In order to enhance the claim to standing by Alaska’s Attorney General it would be helpful if one or both Houses of the Alaska Legislature were to pass a resolution calling upon the Attorney General to file the lawsuit seeking the writ of mandamus. An effort has begun to try to pass such a resolution in the current session in Juneau.
Reckless spending by Congress has saddled future generations with a $31 trillion national debt. It has also caused rampant inflation. Congressional spending needs to be restrained. This can only be accomplished by an amendment to the Constitution. That can only be achieved by using the procedures set out in Article V which allow the state legislatures to initiate such an amendment.
Congress must be compelled by the federal courts to count the number of valid Article V resolutions it has in its possession. If that number is 34 or more, Congress must be ordered to call an Amendment Convention.
Most state legislators are unaware of the power Article V of the Constitution vests in them. Because they have been given this power, they have a constitutional responsibility to exercise it when the situation warrants. Runaway spending by Congress has resulted in an existential threat to the financial well being of this country. Fiscal reform is desperately needed. It will only come if state legislators recognize their obligations under Article V.
The House and Senate of the Alaska legislature should pass resolutions calling upon our Attorney General to file for an Article V writ of mandamus.