Article V Solutions
An Article V convention is not a “constitutional convention” that seeks to rewrite the general framework of our founding document. Rather it is – in the words of Article V itself – a limited “Convention for proposing Amendments.” The Framers understood that our Constitution would always be a work in progress. They also recognized the importance of balancing the need for stability under the new Constitution with the equal necessity of avoiding the failure of the Articles of Confederation to allow for self-correction.
The Framers believed that they achieved this balance in Article V by replacing the unanimity requirement for amending the Articles of Confederation with supermajority voting requirements for amending the Constitution. The Framers also believed that their system of federalism could only be preserved if both the states and Federal Government (acting through Congress) could propose amendments to protect their respective roles in this new system. The is why Article V specifically authorized Congress to propose amendments directly to the states for ratification, while authorizing the states to propose amendments through a limited Article V convention that would serve as an agent of the states rather than Congress.
While no Article V convention has ever been convened, the states have invoked Article V to achieve a desired constitutional amendment. This occurred in 1913, when the states forced Congress to propose what became the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators). From 1899 to 1912, a national movement for direct election of senators convinced 31 states (one short of the requisite two-thirds majority) to send Article V convention applications to Congress.
Today the requisite two-thirds majority for calling an Article V convention is 34 states. Although legal scholars differ in their assessments of current applications to Congress, there is no doubt that the leading candidate is some type of balanced budget or spending limitation amendment, which may require as few as 11 more states to reach the current two-thirds threshold.
Other proposals that should be given serious consideration but which have little chance of passage in Congress include congressional term limits; a war powers amendment; the Repeal Amendment (authorizing 2/3rds of the states to repeal provisions of federal statutes and regulations); the Truth-in-Legislation Amendment (imposing a single-subject rule for all federal legislation); and reform of Article V itself such as Madison Amendment (which would allow 2/3rds of the states to demand a convention to consider a specific amendment.