The following article was written by David Sherfinski and published on the Washington Times.
Supporters of convening a new convention to amend the Constitution are determined to make it an issue in the 2016 campaigns, saying slow progress in the state-by-state fight hasn’t discouraged them, and they will begin a major advertising push later this month to force the topic into the GOP presidential conversation.
Some presidential candidates, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have already announced support for calling a new convention under a never-used provision of Article V of the U.S. Constitution, creating the chance to rewrite the founding document — and giving supporters added incentive to demand answers from the rest of the Republican field.
“We have presidential candidates endorsing, we have presidential candidates talking about Article V — [Texas Sen. Ted] Cruz, Jindal, Huckabee. You’ve got [Gov. John] Kasich out of Ohio supporting Article V,”Mark Meckler, the leader of the group Citizens for Self-Governance, said Wednesday on a conference call. “So this is going to be a presidential issue in 2015 and ‘16.”
Fed up with what they say is an out-of-control Washington bureaucracy and elected leaders unwilling to make tough decisions, Mr. Meckler, who first rose to prominence as a leader in the tea party movement, and his allies in what’s known as the “convention of the states” movement say it’s time to take matters into their own hands.
The push is popular among many Republicans, and particularly those who want to add a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution but have repeatedly failed to get one through Congress. But the movement faces resistance even in some deep-red states such as Texas, where opponents fear a “runaway” convention controlled by liberals who would pursue their own amendments.
But the movement has gained new fuel with major GOP gains in statehouses across the country in recent election cycles.
Mr. Meckler said 37 state legislatures introduced resolutions in 2015, with at least one branch of the state legislature moving forward with them in 19 states. But just four states — Georgia, Alaska, Alabama and Florida — actually passed the convention resolutions.
It takes two-thirds of state legislatures to issue a call to a convention — though the process has never been used and there are a number of questions about it, including whether the legislatures all have to agree on the exact wording of the convention call for it to be legitimate.
By some counts, Michigan became the 34th state to call for a convention last year for the purposes of proposing a balanced-budget amendment to the constitution.
Mr. Meckler’s group, though, has new language endorsing a more restrictive resolution that calls for a convention for “the sole purpose of proposing amendments 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.”
He said advertising on conservative talk radio host Mark Levin’s show would begin later this month.
“We expect the grass-roots army to go crazy. It’s going to be much bigger than it is right now,” he said. “Our goal is going to be able to handle the growth, to control the growth.”
Any amendments approved by a convention would then have to be submitted to the state legislatures for their approval, and three-fourths of states would have to do so.
Mr. Meckler said that since 31 state legislatures are effectively controlled by Republicans, the notion that they would accept a liberal package of amendments is unrealistic, so opponents’ fears are unfounded.
He said the goal is to try to force the issue into the full GOP 2016 presidential debate.