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

Compact for America LogoThe 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

Exhibit A

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

Exhibit B

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

Exhibit C

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

Exhibit D

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.

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


For Further Reading


Avatar photo 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.


  1. […] preceding Part I and Part II, containing Exhibits A through G overwhelmingly establish the laser-focus of the […]

  2. […] In Compact for America Solution to Article V Convention Issues According to the Founders, Part I. debates from the Constitutional Convention, the writings of Trench Coxe, James Madison in Federalist No. 43 and George Nicholas were presented.  What follows in this Part II are the thoughts of Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 85, James Madison explaining the amendment process with proposals by the states as an alternative to nullification, and George Washington’s thoughts on the subject.  It is clear the Founders expected Article V conventions would be focused and not “runaway”. A summary of this issue is found in Part III. […]

  3. […] There are currently several major efforts to employ the Article V provision for a convention called by the states to propose amendments to the Constitution.  One of these efforts is the Compact for America.  A leading proponent of the Compact for America is Nick Dranias.  Mr. Dranias has researched the Founders view of an Article V Convention.  The issues involved and the Founders’ view are explained in a three part series that begins with:   Compact for America Solution to Article V Convention Issues According to the Founders, Part I  . […]

  4. […] Compact for America Solution to Article V Convention Issues According to the Founders, Part I […]