Should We Hold an Article V Convention?


Should We Hold an Article V Convention?

by Hal Shurtleff
Camp Constitution

The Founding Fathers gave us two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution in Article V:

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

Since the ratification of the Constitution, only the first method has been used. We have never held an Article V Convention, and for good reason. A brief history of Article V, and the modern Article V movement:

1789: First application for an Article V introduced by New York. James Madison and John Hancock were two of the Founding Fathers who strongly opposed an Article V Convention. Since then, over 600 applications for an Article V have been introduced.

1915-1917: Applications for an Article V Convention for the direct election of senators were two states away from the needed two-thirds. Congress ended up passing the amendment and three-fourths of the states supported this federal power grab.

1970s to 1980s: We were two states away from an Article V Convention.

1987-1988: Alabama and other states rescind their Article 5 applications.

2000-2010: Numerous states rescinded all applications for an Article V Convention

2010: New Hampshire rescinds all applications for an Article V Convention.

2011: Harvard Law School hosts a “Conference of the Constitutional Convention,” sponsored by left-wing law professor Larry Lessig who is on record as calling for a new constitution, and Mark Meckler of the Tea Party Patriots.

2012: An application for an Article V Convention passes in New Hampshire.

2013-2014: Well-funded groups on the Left and Right were created, including Wolf PAC founded by Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks, and Convention of the States founded by Mark Meckler.

2014-2021: Fifteen states passed Convention of States sponsored resolutions while dozens of states rejected this resolution. In New Hampshire it was recently voted down 19-1 in committee.

Here are some of the reasons to hold an Article V Convention articulated by its supporters, whom I maintain are mostly well-intentioned, with my rebuttals:

  • We have an out-of-control federal government.

While I agree that we have an out-of-control federal government, we also have some out-of-control state governments that eagerly go along with an out-of-control federal government.

  • Big money needs to be out of politics.

We have dozens of campaign finance laws and adding an amendment will not address the issue. Big Money does not always win elections as demonstrated in 2016.

  • An Article V Convention cannot be a “runaway.”

An Article V Convention is by its very nature a runaway convention. State legislators can only apply for one; the Constitution does not grant them power to limit the scope of a convention.

Three-fourths of the States are needed to pass any proposed amendments, which would effectively stop any “unreasonable” amendments from being passed.

States have not only passed “unreasonable” amendments, the 16th and 17th are two that come to mind, but states pass all kinds of unreasonable laws. Congress may choose state-ratifying conventions, which means state legislators may never have the chance to vote on any proposed amendments that come out of a convention.

  • The media would report on the event.

The Corporate Media, also known as Fake News, may report on the event but with its typical anti-freedom slant. We have held press conferences in all New England states on this issue, and with few exceptions, the local media ignores us.

  • It is a remedy that the founders gave us – a gift.

Article 5 was not a remedy; it was a way to correct defects. The entire Constitution was the gift.

  • States need to restore the balance of power.

State officials in both major parties are all too happy to accept federal money. If states want to restore the balance of power, then their officials need to stop taking federal money. The Constitution granted limited and specific powers to the federal government.

  • States have constitutional conventions all the time without any problem.

While state conventions are not the same as an Article V Convention, there are plenty of examples of state conventions making profound changes at their conventions. In the 1840s, Pennsylvania held a convention which disenfranchised the black vote, and in the early 1970s, Montana’s convention ended up writing a new constitution.

  • Republicans control many state governments.

Some of these “Republican majorities” refused to address widespread voter irregularities, while many Republicans are RINOS (Republican in Name Only). Can we trust these Republicans?

  • We need a term limit amendment.

The Constitution already gives us term limits at the ballot box. A term limit amendment sounds appealing, but while it may “throw the bums out” it will also throw out some good legislators while giving us a permanent lame-duck Congress.

  • We need a balanced budget amendment.

No, what we need is a constitutional budget. A balanced budget may lead to tax hikes. All the proposed balanced budget amendments have escape clauses which include a state of war or national emergency. We have been in a state of emergency for years, and this amendment will not only make a state of emergency constitutional, it will also give us a perpetual state of emergency.

  • The Constitution is outdated and no longer valid for our times.

This argument is articulated by those that believe the U.S. is an evil, racist country. The U.S. Constitution is more valid today than it was in 1789.

Here are a few questions to those who support an Article V Convention:

Where will it be held?

Who will pay for it?

Who will be the delegates?

Will members of Congress serve as delegates to the Convention?

How will they be chosen?  By the states or by Congress?

Who will write these amendments?

Will delegates ignore their states’ instructions?

These questions cannot honestly be answered since there are currently no laws or set of rules guiding an Article V Convention,  but Congress certainly has the power to pass laws controlling an Article V Convention.

There are ways we can restore constitutional government, but adding a batch of new amendments via an Article V Convention is not one of them and may prove to be a disaster.

Then what can we do? Plenty. For starters, people should read the Constitution. For a free pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution, please E-mail me at

In my next article, I will list specific recommendations to the readers.

I will conclude with a quote by John Adams:

“Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”   ♦

One Reply to “Should We Hold an Article V Convention?

  1. Hal – you are incorrect in some of your information. The First Convention of States application came from Virginia in 1788, NOT NY! Go look up when NY ratified the Constitution.

    Madison favored Article V:James Madison emphasized in his letter to Edward Everett dated August 28th, 1830 about the proper response by the states to a government that might grow abusive:
    “Should the provisions of the Constitution as here reviewed be found not to secure the Government and rights of the States against usurpations and abuses on the part of the United States the final resort within the purview of the Constitution lies in an amendment of the Constitution according to a process applicable by the States.”

    Madison’s response to “usurpations and abuses” on the part of the federal government is a call from the states for an amending convention (Convention of States) under the provision outlined in Article V.
    James Madison, Federalist, no. 43, 296

    23 Jan. 1788
    That useful alterations will be suggested by experience, could not but be foreseen. It was requisite therefore that a mode for introducing them should be provided. The mode preferred by the Convention seems to be stamped with every mark of propriety. It guards equally against that extreme facility which would render the Constitution too mutable; and that extreme difficulty which might perpetuate its discovered faults. It moreover equally enables the general and the state governments to originate the amendment of errors as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side or on the other. The exception in favour of the equality of suffrage in the Senate was probably meant as a palladium to the residuary sovereignty of the States, implied and secured by that principle of representation in one branch of the Legislature; and was probably insisted on by the States particularly attached to that equality. The other exception must have been admitted on the same considerations which produced the privilege defended by it.

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