The fast-growing, grassroots Convention of States movement has been joined by former senator and head of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint, a constitutional conservative who has been one of the leading champions of limited government and individual liberty in America the past two decades.
“The Tea Party needs a new mission,” DeMint told USA TODAY on Monday. “They realize that all the work they did in 2010 has not resulted in all the things they hoped for. Many of them are turning to Article V.”
Article V of the U.S. Constitution, often referred to as a “safety valve” provided by the Founding Fathers to rein in a federal government that has surpassed its constitutional bounds with no other peaceful means to do so, allows for legislatures of two-thirds of states to call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution — not to be confused with a constitutional convention to rewrite the entire U.S. Constitution.
DeMint said that his 15 years in Washington in both the House and Senate, as well as his four years at the Heritage Foundation, have convinced him that Washington, D.C. will never fix itself:
“I tried to rein in Washington from inside the House and Senate, then by starting Senate Conservatives Fund to elect good conservatives, and Finally as President of the Heritage Foundation, creating and promoting good, conservative policy. But once I realized that Washington will never willingly return decision-making power back to the American people and the states, I began to search for another way to restrain the federal government. I am excited to get outside the beltway and work with the grassroots of the Convention of States Project to continue the fight I started almost two decades ago.”
“The time is now for bold action to save America, and Jim DeMint knows how to fight the opposition to do what is best for Nation and the People,” said Mark Meckler, Co-founder of the Convention of States Project. “He is a principled legislative leader and a friend of the grassroots, which makes his addition to the Convention of States Project a natural fit.”
Article V Convention talk began to take off following The Liberty Amendments, written by constitutional scholar and talk show host Mark Levin in 2013. In the book, Levin outlines 11 proposed amendments that he believes would rein in the federal government to its proper role:
- Impose Congressional term limits
- Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment, returning the election of Senators to state legislatures
- Impose term limits for Supreme Court Justices and restrict judicial review
- Require a balanced budget and limit federal spending and taxation
- Define a deadline to file taxes (one day before the next federal election)
- Subject federal departments and bureaucratic regulations to periodic reauthorization and review
- Create a more specific definition of the Commerce Clause
- Limit eminent domain powers
- Allow states to more easily amend the Constitution by bypassing Congress
- Create a process where two-thirds of the states can nullify federal laws
- Require photo ID to vote and limit early voting
The beauty and brilliance of an Article V Convention of States is that neither Congress nor the President can stop it. For those worried about a “runaway convention,” as is often a talking point of those opposed to Article V, three-quarters (38 of the 50 states) must agree for any of the proposed amendments to be ratified.
Thus far, 12 states have passed Convention of States resolutions, Texas, North Dakota, Arizona, Alaska, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.