A Final Vindication of the Principle of State Sovereignty in Article V
August 22, 2016
Fed Up? This #GivingTuesday Be Heard
November 28, 2017
Article V 2.0, Part 3: SPEED!
May 19, 2015
This blog post is the third and last of 3, explaining the difference between the Compact for a Balanced Budget approach and other “legacy” approaches to originating federal constitutional amendments from the states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
The differences between the Compact approach to Article V and the “legacy” approaches to Article V can be captured in three categories: 1) Certainty; 2) Safety; and 3) Speed. As you will see, the Compact approach is truly “Article V 2.0.” Today’s topic is…
Only the Compact approach can, in principle, deliver a ratified amendment in as little as one session year. The Compact approach essentially transforms the amendment process into a ballot measure voted on by simple majorities of Congress and supermajorities of governors and state legislators.
As intimated previously, the Compact approach works by consolidating into one interstate agreement (a “compact”) all of the legislative steps that the states control in the Article V amendment by convention process (the convention application, the designation of delegates, the convention agenda (including the text of the amendment(s) to be proposed), the convention rules, and the legislative ratification). It also consolidates into one congressional resolution (an “omnibus concurrent resolution”) all of the legislative steps that Congress controls in the process (the convention call and the selection of mode of ratification).
Mechanically, this means that you pass a single compact bill advancing a specific constitutional amendment in thirty-eight (38) states (the threshold for ratification), and you never need to return to the states to get the job done. It means you pass a single compact-activating resolution in Congress with simple majorities and no presidential signature, and you never need to return. The only thing left to do once the states and Congress are done with their respective legislative roles is for the convention to meet and vote up or down the specific amendment contemplated in the compact and resolution.
The Compact approach achieves in three legislative stages and thirty-nine (39) total legislative actions what would otherwise take at least six legislative stages and at least one hundred (100) total legislative actions using the legacy approach. Moreover, only by using the Compact approach can you can actually identify all of the political actors you need to persuade, which allows you to build out a meaningful campaign along a typical legislative model. The legacy approach is a complete shot in the dark requiring a massive political machine to sustain it because of the numerous sequential legislative stages that need to be navigated at uncertain points in time.
This <3 minute video illustrates the difference between the two Article V approaches.
Taken together, the Compact approach to Article V is fundamentally different from the legacy approach because it has unique advantages of certainty, safety and speed, all of which combine to make it the first undeniably plausible vehicle for constitutional reform from the states. Because of its streamlined and consolidated nature, the Compact for a Balanced Budget is far closer to generating a ratified Balanced Budget Amendment than any other effort. In particular, with only 36 state enactments, 1 congressional resolution, and one 24 hour convention to go before achieving a ratified amendment, the Compact for a Balanced Budget is twice as far along the Article V amendment process as any legacy approach, all of which require at least 70 more state enactments, 2 congressional resolutions and one indefinitely long convention to achieve a ratified amendment (the specific nature of which is currently unknown).
History shows the plausibility of surmounting the thresholds needed for the Compact approach to generate a limited government constitutional amendment. This website lists existing interstate compacts in every state. You can see that persuading thirty-eight (38) states to join an interstate compact has been done before. Simple majorities of Congress have repeatedly voted in favor of a Balanced Budget Amendment proposal on the floor (only failing to reach the two-thirds threshold required for a Congressionally-proposed amendment). By contrast, so far, we have been waiting two hundred and twenty-five (225) years for the legacy “convention of the states” approach to Article V to result in an amendment.
If the goal is to maximize the chances of a federal Balanced Budget Amendment in the shortest period of time the Compact for a Balanced Budget-is simply the best approach.