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It's Time to Stop Overthinking Article V

It is a good thing that more and more constitutional scholars have opinions about the Article V "Convention of States." But many have developed incredibly complicated legal theories as to why states or their legislatures or Congress do (or do not) control the proposal of amendments by convention.

Folks are hung up on whether the 10th Amendment applies, whether state governments have a role in directing the process, whether Congress has a call power or duty, whether state legislatures are acting as "independent federal bodies" somehow disembodied from their underlying state government, whether the convention is a sovereign body that acts independently from state or federal control, whether trying to limit a convention to a pre-specified amendment invalidates the effort, etc., ad nauseam.

It turns out that we have been overthinking Article V quite a bit.

And by "we," I do include me too.

In fact, the latest research establishes that Article V has a plain meaning, which is evident and accessible without visiting research libraries in Oxford or indulging in extensive case law analysis. In fact, the Founders have been shouting Article V's meaning at us over and over again from their graves!

It is time for the Article V movement to listen.

And here it is:

  • two-thirds of the states jointly petition, i.e. join in an "Application," through their legislatures for one or more amendments to be proposed by a meeting of state representatives called a "convention;"

  • Congress must call the convention in response to the states' petition; and

  • the convention's authority is limited to the specific requests made in the states' petition.

Yes, it really is that simple. So say Dr. Kevin Gutzman, Dr. John Eastman, Ilya Shapiro, Judge Harold DeMoss, and yours truly.

PS. As you'll see, the plain meaning of Article V has huge implications for policy makers and advocates when it comes to aggregating applying resolutions towards the two-thirds threshold needed to trigger a convention call. Our policy brief provides full guidance on those implications; and why the Compact for America approach to Article V is uniquely suited to solving all related challenges.

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