Secrecy News

A Convention to Amend the Constitution, and More from CRS

Article V of the U.S. Constitution prescribes two ways by which the Constitution can be amended:  Either Congress may propose amendments for ratification by the states, or else a majority of state legislatures may ask Congress to call a convention for considering amendments.

A new report by the Congressional Research Service examines the possibility of a convention to amend the Constitution.  That option has never been used in practice but, CRS says, it could become newly appealing under present circumstances.

“Various contemporary developments could contribute to a renewal of congressional interest in the Article V Convention alternative,” the new CRS report said.  “The emergence of Internet and social media-driven public policy and issue campaigns has combined with renewed interest in specific constitutional amendments, and the Article V Convention procedure in general, as a means of bypassing perceived policy deadlock at the federal level.”

However, “The Constitution provides only a brief description of the Article V Convention process, leaving many details that would need to be considered if a convention were to become a serious prospect.”

A copy of the new CRS report was obtained by Secrecy News.  See The Article V Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments: Contemporary Issues for Congress, July 9, 2012.

Other new and updated CRS reports that have not been approved by Congress for broad public access include the following.

Health Care: Constitutional Rights and Legislative Powers, July 9, 2012

U.S. Postal Service: Background and Analysis of H.R. 2309 and S.1789 in the 112th Congress, July 9, 2012

Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues, July 6, 2012

Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information, June 26, 2012


4 thoughts on “A Convention to Amend the Constitution, and More from CRS

  1. IF ONE HAD to depend upon this single article to be informed regarding an Article V Convention, this article certainly falls short.

    Over 700 applications for an Article V Convention have been forwarded to Congress, and recorded in the Congressional Record, by the several States. They were immediately forgotten, dismissed or pigeon-holed because Congress KNOWS an Article V Convention, where amendments are proposed by “We, The People” will result in the eventual ratification of many new amendments which will seriously curb the excessive powers the government has taken, from the People and from the States.

    One potential amendment, which needs polishing, can be found at 28th-amendment.html. It proposes a fast-track means of removing errant politicians, czars, administrators, representatives, senators, official staff and others by a lawful process resulting in their immediate, lifetime removal from any government position, or any consulting position, if they violate a simple reading of the United States Constitution.

  2. Steven, thanks for posting this CRS report on Article V Conventions, and thanks to your source. I hope you will obtain/post the CRS report mentioned in the above report: “The Article V Convention for Proposing Constitutional Amendments: Historical Perspectives for Congress.”

    This is an issue I’ve been interested in since first learning about it several years ago from the research/activism of Bill Walker and, which is mentioned in the report. 49 of all 50 states have submitted applications to Congress for an Article V convention. Over 400 unique applications are recorded in the Congressional Record. Over 700 total are mentioned, but many of these may be applications submitted to both the House and the Senate, though this isn’t clear.

    The 2/3 requirement was met many decades ago, and Congress has been continually derelict in its duty to call the Article V Convention. The language of the Constitution is clear; Congress “shall call” the convention when the required number of applications is met. The Constitution does not give Congress the option of calling the Convention or not, though it does give it authority to set certain parameters, such as whether ratification will be accomplished by state legislatures or conventions.

    Congress has seen fit to propose all manner of amendments itself, but is treasonously (probably ignorantly in some cases) denying the People the right to propose amendments – and, unfortunately, most people are ignorant or unconcerned, though efforts are being made to raise awareness.

    Congress is certainly aware of this clause. Not only is it their job to know and understand the Constitution, and many who work in Congress do, they were put on notice in 2000 when Bill Walker sued the United States in 2000 and then every member of Congress in 2004: The SCOTUS declined to hear the case, and a lower court essentially ruled that Congress could ignore the Constitution.

    Now Congress have this CRS report, which unfortunately has presented a watered-down version of the Constitutional issues at stake. Again, it would be very interesting to see what’s in the other CRS report.

    Article V FAQ

  3. As my organization is mentioned in this report, I feel it is proper to comment on it. I find it most interesting the report expressly ignored Supreme Court rulings on the various issues of Article V such as U.S. v Sprague where the court expressly ruled (on the basis of a position argued by the United States) that Article V did not allow for rules of construction, interpolation or addition. All of which, of course, the author of the report spends the entire report advocating.

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