The goal of the Compact for America (“CFA”) initiative is for the states to propose and ratify the powerful balanced budget amendment that is contained in the Compact for a Balanced Budget into the United States Constitution in as little as one session year, with a target of July 4, 2017, and a “do or die” date of April 12, 2021 (when the Compact for a Balanced Budget already joined by the States of Georgia and Alaska sunsets).
Over two years in the making, the Compact for a Balanced Budget is now a reality. With the signing into law of the Compact legislation by the governors of Georgia and Alaska in April of 2014, an officially recognized organization of states is now ready to attack the problems of an out of control Congress and a level of national debt that is crippling our future generations. When states enter into a formal contract to legally obligate themselves among each other in an organized effort to achieve a common goal, such a contract is called a “compact”. Currently, there are over 200 compacts in existence, and each state is typically a member of 20 or more compacts.
The Compact for America combines the inherent power of the states to enter into agreements with the approval of Congress (acknowledged in the Constitution‘s Article I, section 10) with the Article V state convention process for amending the Constitution. This allows for a process that has speed, certainty and safety. This the first in a series to examine the Founders’ opinions on how the Article V Convention process should have clear focus. Part II calls attention to more of the Founders support for a focused Article V Convention and Part III brings it all together.
The Original Text of Article V at the 1787 Constitutional Convention
Just as Congress was expected to propose the amendments specified by the states in their Article V Application in the first draft of Article V, so was it expected that the Convention would propose the amendments specified by the states in their Article V Application in the final draft of Article V.
That’s what the Compact for America approach does.
The history of the Constitutional Convention demonstrates this point.
Article V Discussions During Debates on Ratification of the Constitution
These statements were made during the Constitution’s ratification era and constitute clear evidence of the public understanding of the function of the state legislative application in the Article V amendment process. Notice that these statements clearly indicate that two-thirds of the states would specify and agree on the desired amendments in their Article V application before any convention was called. If you find this evidence to be as powerful as we do, please like and share this blog. Also, consider a donation to our “Balance the Budget Now!” campaign.
James Madison, Father of the Constitution, on State Governments Originating Amendments
In light of Federalist No. 43, the most plausible way Article V could be viewed as “equally” enabling the “State Governments to originate the amendment of errors” as with the general government, or Congress, is if the Application of two-thirds of the legislatures of the States, which triggers the convention call, could also direct the Article V convention to propose desired amendments.
George Nicholas’ Response to the Objections of Patrick Henry
Notice how Nicholas’ conclusion is only “natural” with the expectation that the states would typically organize a convention with a narrow and preset agenda, and only after first agreeing on one or more amendments specified in their Article V application.
This is, of course, the foundational principle of the Compact approach to advancing constitutional amendments. Like and share if you agree and want to spread the word! Also consider a tax deductible donation to our “Balance the Budget Now!” campaign. Check out Part II of this series for more on the Founders’ thoughts on the focus of an Article V convention.
For more information and how to get involved, visit the Compact for America Website.