What is the meaning of Article Five of the United States Constitution regarding state legislatures taking over when the Federal legislative branch fails to act?
May 1, 2019 | View PDF
Article V of the Constitution says...
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
Note that the State Legislatures cannot in and of themselves per se take over the function of the United States Legislature but can pass Amendments to the Constitution. Surely, I would think that the duly elected House and Senate members would hopefully not be so out of touch with it’s state that it does not have a feel for the will of the people.
The Convention of States organization was begun in 2013. Legislation has passed in Alabama as well as many other states. Some states have pending legislation this year and several other states have had legislation pass in one house of their state legislature. In a nutshell, at least 34 (2/3) of the 50 states would pass legislation, referred to as an application and send delegates to the convention. Regardless of the number of delegates, each state only gets one vote. The legislation considered must be for the exact same issue. The Convention of States would only consider amendment legislation that would , “limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, impose fiscal restraints, and place term limits on federal officials.”. If the 34 states call a convention, then Congress must comply, though Congress can name the time and place. If the 34 state minimum pass legislation then it must, as now, be ratifies by at least 38 (3/4) states. The commissioners selected by each state must vote the same way as directed by their state legislature.
In opposition to this movement is Common Cause. Common Cause conveys several concerns should a convention of the states occur. Among them, are:
• THREAT OF A RUNAWAY CONVENTION.
• INFLUENCE OF SPECIAL INTERESTS
• LACK OF CONVENTION RULES
• THREAT OF LEGAL DISPUTES
• APPLICATION PROCESS UNCERTAINTY.
• POSSIBILITY OF UNEQUAL REPRESENTATION:
It seems that a convention of states, though never tested has more in line that what Common Cause conveys. For the states and the people having the ability to pass legislation can help to take back and direct a Congress that achieves
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