I know, I know! With WWIII starting in
the Sudetenland Ukraine, this may be an inopportune moment to bring up an Article V Convention (Convention of the States). On the other hand, the Iowa Legislature is still in session and two COS bills have survived the first funnel. This is a picture of state rep Bobby Kaufmann (son of RPI Chairman Jeff Kaufmann) communicating with opponents at a rally in favor of COS.
I have long been an opponent of an Article V Convention. I have spoken against it at county, district, state and national GOP platform committees. I have even lobbied my legislators against it.
Article V of The US Constitution spells out two ways that constitution may be proposed:
- By a two thirds vote in both the House and Senate
- By a convention called for by two thirds of the states
All of the current amendments to the constitution have come through the House and Senate. Notwithstanding how they were proposed, all amendments must be approved by three fourths of the states.
Full disclosure: I have not actually stopped worrying and I don’t really love the Article V Convention but, I am no longer actively opposed to it either.
Most conservatives who support a COS (some liberals support a COS as well) want a convention to (according to Convention of States Action):
… propose amendments that will impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit its power and jurisdiction, and impose term limits on its officials and members of Congress.
The constitution does not provide any limits on amendments that could be proposed. Nor does the constitution define how many votes it would take in a convention to propose an amendment. It does not even clearly define how many votes each state would get.
With these questions unanswered, my opposition to a COS has been based on the possibility (or in my opinion — the likelihood) of a runaway convention. That is, once convened, a COS could propose any amendment whatsoever. Of course, supporters will argue that the states would prevent this from happening. In Iowa, two bills HF2327 and HF2173 attempted to allay those concerns. HF2327 survived the first funnel and would be similar to the laws that prevent presidential electors from voting differently than the state. HF2173 did not survive the funnel, it would have made voting against the states wishes a Class A Felony, punishable by life imprisonment with no chance of parole!
I believe that a COS would produce a term limit amendment for federal office holders. But beyond that I think the sky is the limit. I have concerns about the Electoral College, the Second Amendment and more. On the other hand, three fourths of the state legislatures (or special conventions) would have to ratify any proposed amendments and other than possibly term limits, I do not see any others passing.
I am still not in the COS camp, but after years of opposition, I am no longer a vocal opponent.