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Compact for America Solution to Article V Convention Issues According to the Founders, Part III

George Washington Got a CompactThe preceding Part I and Part II, containing Exhibits A through G overwhelmingly establish the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach on advancing and ratifying a specific amendment is four-square what the Founders expected from Article V. Simply put, the Founders clearly meant for the Article V convention’s agenda to be set in fine detail by the state legislative application that triggers the convention call, including the amendment to be proposed. With its multiple safeguards, the Compact approach ensures this happens in the real world, not merely as a matter of legal theory.

Does that imply that other less-focused Article V approaches are not what the Founders wanted?

Exhibit FYes and no. On one hand, there is no doubt that James Madison opposed a broad agenda for an Article V convention. Madison’s opposition was clearly expressed in response to the State of New York’s efforts to qualify its ratification of the Constitution and later advance an Article V application that sought a convention with an agenda that would include roughly two dozen amendment topics. On the other hand, there is little evidence that other Founders were similarly concerned about a broad agenda. Moreover, there is no evidence that the Founders believed the states could not apply for a convention with a broad agenda if they wanted to. Further, Madison’s opposition to a broad agenda Article V convention during the Founding Era, when he was trying to shore up support for the Constitution, is not necessarily evidence of where the Founders would stand today.

Today, there is a plausible argument that the federal government has gone so completely off the rails that no one amendment or set of amendments can fix the problem, and that you need to seek to organize an Article V convention both to draft a wide range of solutions for the magnitude of the problem and to build consensus around them simultaneously.

We at Compact for America respect this argument. But most of us are not persuaded.

Most of the Compact for America team sincerely doubt that a genuine and peaceful consensus can be reached on the full spectrum of constitutional reforms needed to fix every significant constitutional problem. Such doubt is based on the fact that our society is divided 51-49 on most of the biggest pressing issues of the day.

At the same time, most of us freely admit the possibility we could be wrong, which is reason-enough to support to some extent even Article V efforts that seek to organize a convention with a broad agenda that could tackle every major constitutional problem. After all, we have increasingly little to lose. A convention of the states with a broad agenda is unlikely to succeed in killing the Republic before Washington does. And the political class can only kill the Republic once. Most of the Compact for America team believes there is nothing wrong with keeping the push for a broader agenda convention alive so that we can reconsider the need for comprehensive reform when the culture is more receptive to completing the job.

Still, rather than tackling every major constitutional problem all at once, Compact for America believes the most prudent way for the Article V movement to proceed is to give top priority to the most impactful reforms that already command supermajority support.

We should tackle constitutional problems one-by-one, not all at once.

We should change the political culture incrementally, but significantly, by focusing on the biggest points of policy leverage.

That is the judgment and the strategy behind the laser focus of the Compact for a Balanced Budget and the future Article V compacts that will be advanced as part of the Compact for America Initiative.

We hope you would agree, but not to the total exclusion of other worthy efforts.

If you agree, please like and share.

For more information and how to get involved, visit the Compact for America Website.

Like the Compact for America on Facebook and follow Nick Dranias on Twitter.

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Nick Dranias About Nick Dranias

Nick Dranias is President & Executive Director within the Office of the President of Compact for America Educational Foundation, Inc. The Compact for America initiative uses a formal, interstate agreement to advance one or more constitutional amendments in a fraction of the time and without any of the legitimate questions raised by other approaches. Its first iteration involves a powerful federal Balanced Budget Amendment. Dranias previously served as General Counsel and Constitutional Policy Director for the Goldwater Institute, where he held the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair and directed the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center. Dranias led the Goldwater Institute’s successful challenge to Arizona’s system of government campaign financing to the Supreme Court. Dranias also serves as a constitutional scholar, authoring scholarly articles dealing with a wide spectrum of issues in constitutional and regulatory policy. Dranias’ latest works are In Defense of Private Civic Engagement (forthcoming Cato Institute) and Introducing "Article V 2.0" (Heartland Institute/Federalist Society). Prior thereto, Dranias was an attorney with the Institute for Justice for three years and an attorney in private practice in Chicago for eight years. He served on the Loyola University Chicago Law Review, competed on Loyola’s National Labor Law Moot Court Team, and received various academic awards. He graduated cum laude from Boston University with a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy.

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  1. […] Part II calls attention to more of the Founders support for a focused Article V Convention and Part III brings it all […]