“Under Article V of Constitution, Congress, upon application of two-thirds of the states, must call a convention for proposing amendments,” Heritage legal scholar John Malcolm explains:
Proponents argue that an Article V convention, completely bypassing Congress, the President, the courts, and the federal bureaucracy, would give the states and the people a more direct role in determining how much power the federal government should have and whether some of its existing power should be returned to the states and the people. The process specified in Article V raises many questions that require careful consideration: how such a convention would work, what types of amendments it might produce, and whether some of those amendments would successfully rein in the federal government and reinvigorate federalism. With or without such a convention, however, it remains vitally important that we continue to maintain an overriding focus on holding Congress, the President, and, by extension, federal agencies accountable for the decisions they make today.
One major question about an Article V convention–which has been suggested recently by both conservatives and progressives as a means to bypass an intransigent Congress–is about whether it can be limited to advancing conservative ends:
An Article V convention might propose an amendment to restore or expand the liberties of the American people, but it also could propose an amendment that diminishes the liberties of the American people, or of some of the people. While it is no doubt true that the ratification process itself, requiring support from three-fourths of the states (38 at present), decreases the likelihood of some radical proposal ultimately becoming part of our Constitution, it is worth recalling that 27 of the 33 proposed amendments that have been sent to the states for ratification achieved the requisite number, and that was before the age of the Internet and social media–driven campaigns that can dramatically increase public pressure on those who are considering such an amendment and reduce the time devoted to thoughtful reflection.
Be sure to read Malcolm’s whole article, which reviews the legal and practical arguments both for and against an Article V convention.
The Heritage Guide to the Constitution has more about Article V and its meaning.
Do you think amending the Constitution is the best way to advance freedom?