POLITICS
03/25/2013 05:47 pm ET Updated Mar 26, 2013

Article V Convention To Amend Constitution Pushed By Several States

At least three states are seeking to force a constitutional convention to consider changes to the founding document.

Indiana, Georgia and Kansas have proposed a convention under the Constitution's Article V, which allows two-thirds of the states to call a convention. The states' reasons range from balancing the federal budget to overhauling federal powers. A constitutional convention has not been convened since the original one in 1787.

Forty-nine of the 50 states have filed at least one resolution with Congress calling for a constitutional convention. In order for a convention to be held, at least 34 states must pass a resolution on the same subject.

Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas who backs an Article V convention, said the process is designed to be hard. "People who don't like the idea of a convention, which is most people, want to make it impossible," Levinson said.

Resolutions in Kansas and Indiana call for a constitutional convention to balance powers of states and the federal government. Georgia's calls for the inclusion of a balanced budget amendment. The Indiana resolution -- passed by the state Senate -- gives broad outlines, while the Kansas resolution specifies that education, guns, health care, insurance and elections are strictly state powers with no role for the federal government.

"The idea is that the federal government never wants to limit its power," Kansas state Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-Shawnee), a sponsor of his state's resolution, told HuffPost. "Most of the amendments are to expand the scope of the federal government. Except for the Bill of Rights, everything expands power."

Some backers of a constitutional convention said they worry conventioneers could range beyond resolutions to amend any part of the Constitition. Hildabrand said he had such concerns, but was assured by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), that constitutional safeguards prevent a so-called runaway convention, requiring changes be approved by three-fourths of the states. Similar reasoning was used in the Indiana Senate debate.

Hildabrand said that he and other Kansas backers of a convention plan a national campaign to get other states to join the effort. He said they plan pressure conservative states, including Texas and Wyoming, to pass resolutions similar to the one in Kansas.

Levinson said its unclear whether convention delegates would be elected or picked by state legislatures. He said he wants an Article V convention that would "last for two years and is on CSPAN and holds serious hearings on the whole thing."

Levinson said he doesn't see states rushing to join the Kansas plan. "There is no way two-thirds of the states will get behind such a radical-right proposition," he said.

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