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Article V

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;
Thos. Jefferson et al., Declaration of Independence, 1776

Purpose

Article V of the United States Constitution has attracted interest lately as more people have become frustrated with Washington, D.C., and with standard politics. Article V sets out the process for amending the Constitution. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief introduction to the U.S. Constitution's processes for amending it. It takes no position on any of the many proposed amendments, and no position on which process to use to amend the Constitution.

Background

The Constitution now has 27 amendments. The first ten are known together as the Bill of Rights, and were ratified on Dec. 10, 1789, giving us Bill of Rights Day.

The remainder have been approved since. The latest has an interesting story. James Madison proposed twelve amendments in 1789. Ten went on to become the Bill of Rights. One of the remaining two, the Madison Amendment, was ratified May 7, 1992, becoming the 27th amendment. It states,

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Plenty of amendments have been proposed and not gotten anywhere. Many have been proposed by Congress but not ratified. One of the latter is the Equal Rights Amendment. Congress set a deadline of March 22, 1979. Due to opposition from conservative leader Phyllis Schafly and division among feminists, it never made the deadline.

Others stall and go into a limbo of forgotten amendments. One is the Liberty Amendment, which would bar the federal government from enterprises not authorized by the constitution, and repealed the income tax. Wyoming was the first state to ratify it, in 1959, Indiana the ninth in 1982. No state has ratified it since. But the history of the Madison Amendment should give its proponents hope.

Legal

So how are amendments proposed and ratified? Article V of the Constitution provides:

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.
U.S. Constitution Article V

This means that there are two routes to an amendment. The usual route is that Congress, by a 2/3rds vote in each house, can propose an amendment to the states. Three quarters of the states must then ratify it, either in the state legislatures or in special conventions.

The other route is a Convention for proposing amendments. When two thirds of the states call for such a convention, Congress must call it. This route also requires three quarters of the states to ratify whatever the convention produces.

There are two separate questions to consider. Which of the two routes to an amendment should one pick? And what amendment (or amendments) should one propose?

Plenty of amendments – all the successful ones so far – originated in Congress. But others that originated in Congress have failed; the Equal Rights Amendment for one. Skeptics point out that Congress isn’t likely to propose amendments in some areas. With the national debt now approaching $20 trillion, how likely is Congress to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment? Some 28 states have ratified it in one form or another. How likely is Congress to propose reformations of its other bad habits?

So Citizens for Self-Governance has launched the Convention of the States Project to urge the convention route on the several states. It has not been done before. That is only a problem for the timid. But it also means we are exploring that route much more than the Congressional route. The project is moving along: in September a mock Convention met in Williamsburg, VA, precisely to do some of the necessary exploration.

Author and talk show host Mark Levin has written a book calling for eleven amendments.

Texas governor Greg Abbott has called for nine amendments.

Where does Wyoming stand?

Wyoming

Wyoming has supported several proposed amendments, but not necessarily via the convention route. There could be more, as this is not the result of an exhaustive search of Wyoming’s records.

Year

Route

Bill

Summary

1939

Congress

House Joint Memorial 4

Repeal and replace the 16th Amendment and limit the income tax and certain other taxes.

1959

Congress

Enrolled Joint Resolution 2

Liberty Amendment: Repeal the income tax and prohibit the federal government from engaging in business.

1961

Convention

Enrolled Joint Resolution 4

A balanced budget amendment. In 1961, the Wyoming legislature considered the federal deficit to be “unmanageable”.

1963

Convention1

Enrolled Joint Resolution 2

Court of the Union. This would create a court composed of the chief justices of the states’ highest courts. It would determine whether the federal government had jurisdiction on a given question.

1963

Convention2

Enrolled Joint Memorial 14

The federal government may not restrict or modify apportionment of representation in a state legislature.

1963

Convention3

Enrolled Joint Memorial 15

Proposed a new method of amending the federal constitution, via the state legislatures.

1978

Congress

HJR 6

The Madison Amendment, now Amendment 27.

1979

Convention

SJR 4

Also calling for a balanced budget amendment.

1997

Congress

HJ 8, Enrolled Joint Resolution 1

Also calling for a balanced budget amendment.

2009

 

HJ 7, House Enrolled Joint Resolution 3

Rescinded calls for conventions to propose amendments including the 1961 and 1979 balanced budget amendment resolutions, but not the 1997 resolution.

In 2015, the Wyoming House approved HJ 4 by 44 to 16, which then failed in the Senate 7 to 22. HJ 4 (2015) would have called for a balanced budget amendment.

The year before, the House considered HB 27, which would have set some rules for an Article V convention. It failed.

Resources

Citizens for Self-Governance, http://selfgovern.com/

Convention of the States Project, http://www.conventionofstates.com/

Friends of the Article V Convention, http://www.foavc.org/

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Article V Handbook, Rob Natelson, https://www.alec.org/publication/article-v-handbook/

The Article V Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments: Contemporary Issues for Congress, Thomas H. Neale, Specialist in American National Government, Congressional Research Service,4 http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42589.pdf

Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for the Tenth Amendment: Thomas K. Lindsay, Ph.D., Who’s Afraid of an Article V Convention of States?, http://www.texaspolicy.com/content/detail/whos-afraid-of-an-article-v-convention-of-states

U.S. Term Limits, https://www.termlimits.org/

1Unless Congress first proposes an identical amendment.

2Unless Congress first proposes an identical amendment.

3Unless Congress first proposes an identical amendment.

4The CRS does not release documents to the public. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Research_Service_reports#How_to_access_CRS_Reports I requested a copy from a Congressional staffer. The copy the staffer provided and the one cite above have the same text contents..

Foamy Beer, Foamy Soda In Education Budgets
Dictatorial Behemoth

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Comments 17

Guest - MJ Alexander on Saturday, 15 October 2016 18:04

Excellent article! The COS Simulation mentioned in the article in was not only the first of its kind, it was attended by commissioners from all 50 states were in attendance.

Since this procedure hasn't been used since the last state-led Article V amendments convention held in 1861 (The Washington Peace Conference), it was both wise and prudent for advocates of such an event to gather actual, duly-elected state representatives from across the country to participate in this very authentic, if truncated, practice run, much like one would test drive a car before buying, or spend a hour or so in the batting cage before a big game. It was like debate prep on a national scale.

But even though it was a dry run, what was very real was that it put on clear display for everyone to see that the system still works! Even when there were those who stood up in the simulation to fight AGAINST the primary objectives of reducing the size, scope and jurisdiction of the federal government, as would be expected in the real deal, they were unable to "hijack" the process, as has been the fear most loudly voiced by naysayers, by elitist defenders of the status quo, by the uninformed, and by misled opponents of Article V's Option 2.

The unmitigated success of this event puts to rest once and for all the groundless fears of a "runaway convention" where all our liberties are repealed as irrelevant and replaced with someone's Draconian nightmare. The Founders were right... the fear-mongers are wrong.

Watch Day 3 here, then sign the petition below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4895&v=vqqOVV4oRqI
Be informed. Sign the petition. Get involved. http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=2323563

Excellent article! The COS Simulation mentioned in the article in was not only the first of its kind, it was attended by commissioners from all 50 states were in attendance. Since this procedure hasn't been used since the last state-led Article V amendments convention held in 1861 (The Washington Peace Conference), it was both wise and prudent for advocates of such an event to gather actual, duly-elected state representatives from across the country to participate in this very authentic, if truncated, practice run, much like one would test drive a car before buying, or spend a hour or so in the batting cage before a big game. It was like debate prep on a national scale. But even though it was a dry run, what was very real was that it put on clear display for everyone to see that the system still works! Even when there were those who stood up in the simulation to fight AGAINST the primary objectives of reducing the size, scope and jurisdiction of the federal government, as would be expected in the real deal, they were unable to "hijack" the process, as has been the fear most loudly voiced by naysayers, by elitist defenders of the status quo, by the uninformed, and by misled opponents of Article V's Option 2. The unmitigated success of this event puts to rest once and for all the groundless fears of a "runaway convention" where all our liberties are repealed as irrelevant and replaced with someone's Draconian nightmare. The Founders were right... the fear-mongers are wrong. Watch Day 3 here, then sign the petition below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4895&v=vqqOVV4oRqI Be informed. Sign the petition. Get involved. http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=2323563
Guest - Sharon C on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 10:47

MJ Alexander - you claim that there were those who were trying to fight against the primary objectives of the simulated convention. Did this happen in the Thursday sessions? I didn't see any evidence of that in the Friday sessions which were recorded and broadcast.

MJ Alexander - you claim that there were those who were trying to fight against the primary objectives of the simulated convention. Did this happen in the Thursday sessions? I didn't see any evidence of that in the Friday sessions which were recorded and broadcast.
Guest - MJ Alexander on Thursday, 20 October 2016 00:10

Not really a "claim," Sharon... I'm just repeating what I heard from a first-hand account of an attendee who was a member of the committee that addressed term limits... apparently it got feisty. I don't know if there are videos of the committee debates, or if there are, whether or not they will be released.

Not really a "claim," Sharon... I'm just repeating what I heard from a first-hand account of an attendee who was a member of the committee that addressed term limits... apparently it got feisty. I don't know if there are videos of the committee debates, or if there are, whether or not they will be released.
Guest - Toby Short on Saturday, 15 October 2016 20:39

I have read this article about the COS. To those who oppose an article V convention on whatever grounds, I offer this: without it, we are left with three options.
1. Do nothing and let the Federal Government continue on its current course.
2. Commit to an armed insurrection, with a view to restoring the Republic; or,
3. Use the constitutional means of an article 5 Convention of States with a view to restoring the Republic.
I find the only responsible course to be a Convention of States. It will certainly not be easy, but neither was the Revolutionary War, going from the Articles of Confederation to the US Constitution, or WW II. Is the current generation any less capable than the men who drafted our constitution?? I THINK NOT!! We are just as capable, and we have the legacy of their wisdom to guide the convention. I fear if we fail to act we doom our grandchildren to servitude. http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=2350623

I have read this article about the COS. To those who oppose an article V convention on whatever grounds, I offer this: without it, we are left with three options. 1. Do nothing and let the Federal Government continue on its current course. 2. Commit to an armed insurrection, with a view to restoring the Republic; or, 3. Use the constitutional means of an article 5 Convention of States with a view to restoring the Republic. I find the only responsible course to be a Convention of States. It will certainly not be easy, but neither was the Revolutionary War, going from the Articles of Confederation to the US Constitution, or WW II. Is the current generation any less capable than the men who drafted our constitution?? I THINK NOT!! We are just as capable, and we have the legacy of their wisdom to guide the convention. I fear if we fail to act we doom our grandchildren to servitude. http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=2350623
Guest - Sharon C on Saturday, 15 October 2016 21:29

The second mode of proposing amendments was added to Article V because the Founders knew that once a goverrment become tyrannical, it would not be capable of restraining its own tyranny. This is exactly the situation we're in now. Congress can't even work up and pass a real budget, let along a balanced budget, let alone a Balanced Budget Amendment. It's time for the states to take the authority they were given and intervene with a solution.

The second mode of proposing amendments was added to Article V because the Founders knew that once a goverrment become tyrannical, it would not be capable of restraining its own tyranny. This is exactly the situation we're in now. Congress can't even work up and pass a real budget, let along a balanced budget, let alone a Balanced Budget Amendment. It's time for the states to take the authority they were given and intervene with a solution.
Guest - Monica S. on Sunday, 16 October 2016 15:50

I enthusiastically support the Convention of States Project which I feel is the only solution big enough for the problems in our country. We must use Article V of the US Constitution to rein in the federal government and bring the power back to the people through the states. The federal government is not going to fix itself. It's up to We the People to take our country back! Please go to the website (Conventionofstates.com) to learn more. It is important to sign the petition to let your state legislator know that you are in support.

I enthusiastically support the Convention of States Project which I feel is the only solution big enough for the problems in our country. We must use Article V of the US Constitution to rein in the federal government and bring the power back to the people through the states. The federal government is not going to fix itself. It's up to We the People to take our country back! Please go to the website (Conventionofstates.com) to learn more. It is important to sign the petition to let your state legislator know that you are in support.
Guest - Rodney Dodsworth on Sunday, 16 October 2016 16:22

"When two thirds of the states call for such a convention, Congress must call it."
Alexander Hamilton wrote the same in Federalist #85, and added, "Nothing is left to the discretion of Congress."
The states have submitted hundreds of applications.
Yet, Congress has not, and never will, call a convention of states to propose amendments.
ArticleVBlog.com

"When two thirds of the states call for such a convention, Congress must call it." Alexander Hamilton wrote the same in Federalist #85, and added, "Nothing is left to the discretion of Congress." The states have submitted hundreds of applications. Yet, Congress has not, and never will, call a convention of states to propose amendments. ArticleVBlog.com
Guest - Don Sutton on Monday, 17 October 2016 05:15

The second part of Article V was put in at the insistence of George Mason, who realized that the first part would be like the fox guarding the chicken coop in the event that a tyrannical Federal Government emerged. We are implementing part 2 at conventionofstates.com. Join us.

http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=246073

The second part of Article V was put in at the insistence of George Mason, who realized that the first part would be like the fox guarding the chicken coop in the event that a tyrannical Federal Government emerged. We are implementing part 2 at conventionofstates.com. Join us. http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=246073
Guest - Bill on Monday, 17 October 2016 18:15

If you want to participate in the way the country is run then stop spending all day commenting. It changes NOTHING. Do something that might change some things. Go to cosaction.com. Read the literature. Learn how Article V works and the narrowly focused goals of the project. Take the time to watch the simulation (just like a movie from Redbox, you don't have to watch the whole thing in one sitting). You will see how you CAN make a difference. You have the time to read these articles and comment so don't use time as an excuse. Please don't ignore the chance to at least learn how it really works. Use the link. To ignore the link is just giving up and allowing the 'special interests and rich donors' to keep running things without even trying to see if there is anything you personally can do to cause change. There is something you can do. Get on your state legislators website, email them or call them and demand they get on board with an Article V convention. Click on the link NOW. Don't say, "Oh, I might look at it later." You know you won't. You'll forget just like I have a million times when I say I'll check something out later. If you truly don't have time now text cosaction.com to yourself. After you see how great an idea it is you'll have the text ready to send to your friends and family. I know you will want to.

If you want to participate in the way the country is run then stop spending all day commenting. It changes NOTHING. Do something that might change some things. Go to cosaction.com. Read the literature. Learn how Article V works and the narrowly focused goals of the project. Take the time to watch the simulation (just like a movie from Redbox, you don't have to watch the whole thing in one sitting). You will see how you CAN make a difference. You have the time to read these articles and comment so don't use time as an excuse. Please don't ignore the chance to at least learn how it really works. Use the link. To ignore the link is just giving up and allowing the 'special interests and rich donors' to keep running things without even trying to see if there is anything you personally can do to cause change. There is something you can do. Get on your state legislators website, email them or call them and demand they get on board with an Article V convention. Click on the link NOW. Don't say, "Oh, I might look at it later." You know you won't. You'll forget just like I have a million times when I say I'll check something out later. If you truly don't have time now text cosaction.com to yourself. After you see how great an idea it is you'll have the text ready to send to your friends and family. I know you will want to.
Guest - Carol Menges on Monday, 17 October 2016 18:33

We must do our part to make a Convention of States come to pass ASAP, "limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress." http://www.conventionofstates.com/citizens_toolkit

Check out the website, sign the online petition that goes to your state legislators, and volunteer to help patriots throughout the nation. There are many legislative districts that still need District Captains within states. Take that on whether you live in a particular district or not. There are wonderful Tuesday evening online training calls (9:00 PM Eastern Time; they're also recorded for watching at your convenience) that have been enormously helpful to me. They're informative and inspirational. You're needed on deck! http://www.conventionofstates.com

We must do our part to make a Convention of States come to pass ASAP, "limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress." http://www.conventionofstates.com/citizens_toolkit Check out the website, sign the online petition that goes to your state legislators, and volunteer to help patriots throughout the nation. There are many legislative districts that still need District Captains within states. Take that on whether you live in a particular district or not. There are wonderful Tuesday evening online training calls (9:00 PM Eastern Time; they're also recorded for watching at your convenience) that have been enormously helpful to me. They're informative and inspirational. You're needed on deck! www.conventionofstates.com
Guest - Fredrick Yerrick on Monday, 17 October 2016 22:08

Our Founding Fathers gave us a Constitutional Republic and all we have to do is maintain her. It takes "Enlightened Citizens " to maintain our Republic. Please join us at conventionofstates.com. We thank you.

Our Founding Fathers gave us a Constitutional Republic and all we have to do is maintain her. It takes "Enlightened Citizens " to maintain our Republic. Please join us at conventionofstates.com. We thank you.
Guest - Roger Teaters on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 01:30


Almost every major problem facing our country can be traced back to the unconstitutional overreach of the federal government. The Convention of States Project is the only solution big enough for the problems in our country. We must use Article V of the US Constitution to bring the power back to the people through the states. Please learn more and join me and the liberty loving volunteers in this amazing grassroots movement. Please join us, sign the petition and get involved. at http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=1862102

Almost every major problem facing our country can be traced back to the unconstitutional overreach of the federal government. The Convention of States Project is the only solution big enough for the problems in our country. We must use Article V of the US Constitution to bring the power back to the people through the states. Please learn more and join me and the liberty loving volunteers in this amazing grassroots movement. Please join us, sign the petition and get involved. at http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=1862102
Guest - Robert Weitman on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 14:35

Thanks for this blog posting. Wouldn't it be great if each state would duplicate your concept. Liberty is under attack and your blog is helpful to alert the people to the danger. The Convention Of States Project model is worthy of consideration. Patriots are working at COSAction to urge our state legislatures to call for an Article V COS. The single amendment strategy will require many years to accomplish all that is needed. Go to http://www.conventionofstates.com to discover more. To join us go to http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=1970746 to sign the petition and find ways to help.

Thanks for this blog posting. Wouldn't it be great if each state would duplicate your concept. Liberty is under attack and your blog is helpful to alert the people to the danger. The Convention Of States Project model is worthy of consideration. Patriots are working at COSAction to urge our state legislatures to call for an Article V COS. The single amendment strategy will require many years to accomplish all that is needed. Go to http://www.conventionofstates.com to discover more. To join us go to http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=1970746 to sign the petition and find ways to help.
Guest - Dan Randolph on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 16:33

Great article, with excellent resources. Wyoming had an intriguing idea in their "Court of the Union" resolution - imagine how different things would be today had that become law. If you would like to help; to become involved in an historic effort to move control away from the federal government, and back to the States where the Founder's intended power to reside, please consider joining our volunteer team at http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=9461.

Great article, with excellent resources. Wyoming had an intriguing idea in their "Court of the Union" resolution - imagine how different things would be today had that become law. If you would like to help; to become involved in an historic effort to move control away from the federal government, and back to the States where the Founder's intended power to reside, please consider joining our volunteer team at http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=9461.
Guest - Bryan Rounds on Thursday, 20 October 2016 11:50

September 21st was the first day I heard about COS as did millions of Americans. More sim conventions are needed. The idea of the Federal Government getting as large as it is now is damaging to future generations. I urge to sign the petition and tell a friend! http://www.conventionofstates.com

September 21st was the first day I heard about COS as did millions of Americans. More sim conventions are needed. The idea of the Federal Government getting as large as it is now is damaging to future generations. I urge to sign the petition and tell a friend! http://www.conventionofstates.com
Guest - Troy D on Friday, 21 October 2016 12:11

Many people like to sit and complain about how the government is out of control, does not listen to the voice of the people and is completely corrupt. Now is the time to do more than talk about it, now is your chance to take action.
Make a difference, don't just talk about it, actually commit to making this country great again. Stand up, be fightin' mad, let the corporate government, yes I said that, know this is not how it is going to be any more.
Take action now because sitting there and reading, liking a page, is not going to cut it. Put your feet to the floor and be that American citizen who wants their country back!!! Joining the Convention Of States is the legal way and the right way to peacefully take it back.

Many people like to sit and complain about how the government is out of control, does not listen to the voice of the people and is completely corrupt. Now is the time to do more than talk about it, now is your chance to take action. Make a difference, don't just talk about it, actually commit to making this country great again. Stand up, be fightin' mad, let the corporate government, yes I said that, know this is not how it is going to be any more. Take action now because sitting there and reading, liking a page, is not going to cut it. Put your feet to the floor and be that American citizen who wants their country back!!! Joining the Convention Of States is the legal way and the right way to peacefully take it back.
Guest - cliff w on Saturday, 22 October 2016 11:37

Yes, I too agree the federal government has gotten so far away from self-government. There is no way for DC to fix itself. A convention of states is the right remedy and long past due for the states to fix the structure of the government they installed. Corruption and progressives will destroy US if we don't take proper action to correct.

Yes, I too agree the federal government has gotten so far away from self-government. There is no way for DC to fix itself. A convention of states is the right remedy and long past due for the states to fix the structure of the government they installed. Corruption and progressives will destroy US if we don't take proper action to correct.
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