If 34 state legislatures forced Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments, what would the rules look like?
The Convention of States movement (CoS) wanted an answer to this question. So its president asked me to take the lead in drafting sample rules. Then CoS would present them to state legislators for comment. This process might also provide the convention itself with a starting-point for preparing its own rules.
We presented the results at a conference last month in San Diego, California. The conference was sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council, one of the nation’s largest associations of state lawmakers.
The sample rules are available here. BEFORE READING THEM, PLEASE OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING:
* Important explanations appear in the footnotes.
* The final decision on convention rules is up to the convention itself. However, state legislators can recommend particular rules or instruct their commissioners (delegates) to vote only for particular rules. In calling the convention, Congress may recommend rules but may not prescribe them.
* These proposals were not invented out of thin air by me or by anyone else. For the most part, they are similar to rules actually adopted by previous conventions of states—notably the 1861 Washington Conference Convention, but also the 1787 Constitutional Convention and others.
* There have been updates to take into account modern conditions. Those updates are explained in the footnotes.
* Most of these rules can be adapted to any amendments convention, but the last two are designed especially for a convention called under the three-part application sponsored by the Convention of States movement. The three parts are (1) fiscal restraints on the federal government, (2) limits on the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and (3) federal term limits. Those would be only subjects allowed, and the rules provide that other subjects are out of order. (Claims that the convention could consider other subjects are misinformed.)
CoS soon will offer a website that will allow public comment.