Refuting Those Who Are Paranoid About A Convention to Propose Amendments

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-be-wary-of-a-constitutional-convention/2014/10/31/fd550604-6133-11e4-827b-2d813561bdfd_story.html

October 31

In a recent PostEverything commentary, Robert Greenstein attacked the Article V convention mode of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. A critique of past balanced budget amendment proposals provided the platform for his assault. His argument is obsolete.

The amendment by convention movement is not characterized by a left-right divide. The drive for the proposal of a balanced budget amendment is only one important part of a growing movement. The Article V amendment process is simply a vehicle for reform that Congress itself can’t control — one that can spark fundamental changes in federal policy, and that can be tuned in advance to specific reform proposals. It is a procedure, not a party platform, open to reformers from all sides.

An Article V convention has no power to change the Constitution on its own. Its only power, as the Constitution plainly states, is “for proposing Amendments” as directed by the state legislatures. Compact for America has developed an agreement among the states to define and safeguard the amendment by convention process in advance. We urge Mr. Greenstein to become aware of this new application of an old technology — the “compact.”

The Framers gave us the convention procedure to provide a way around a Congress entrenched by insiders. Americans from across a political spectrum are now working together to use that gift. The insiders will squeal. But that is precisely the point: they refuse to fix the fundamental problems that we now face. We must now use the tools available to solve the problems that the insiders won’t.

Nick Dranias, Phoenix

The writer is vice president of the Compact for America Educational Foundation.

Lawrence Lessig, Boston

The writer is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School.

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