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October 2016 Policy Study, Number 16-3


How To Restore Federal Fiscal Sanity: The State Legislatures Hold The Key


Could A Constitutional Convention Change The Ratification Process or Impose A New Constitution?



Some opponents paint a nightmarish picture of a runaway convention overriding the Constitutional requirement that 38 states must ratify any proposed amendment and imposing a new, radical Constitution.


But how could this actually happen?


How indeed? Our opponents never explain how this could happen, or how the evil plotters would persuade the American people to elect a majority of delegates who would violate the Constitution in this extreme way.


Even if a convention would attempt to impose a new Constitution and bypass the ratification process, any State could immediately ask the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down this obvious violation of the Constitution.


Article V plainly states that a convention’s authority is limited to “proposing Amendments” and that no amendment becomes valid until it is ratified by three-fourths of the states.


Proclaiming a new Constitution in violation of our present Constitution would amount to overthrowing our government.  But such an attempt by a convention would surely be the most toothless, ineffective revolution in world history.


Would the President, Congress, Supreme Court, and the world’s most powerful armed forces simply bow down and obey an illegal decision by a roomful of unarmed delegates?  The idea is silly.


A convention has no power to levy taxes or raise armed forces to help it take over the nation.  The Constitution gives Congress at least 20 specific powers that a convention lacks. Congress can raise taxes, spend money, impeach Presidents, and much more.


If one wants to worry about far-fetched possibilities, it is more likely that Congress could usurp the Constitution than that a convention could usurp Congress.  Congress has real powers to induce people to go along with its desires.  A convention can only talk and propose.




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