Under a platform plank widely supported by delegates to the Texas Republican Party’s convention, state lawmakers are asked to call for a convention of states to propose constitutional amendments “reducing the power of the federal government.”
The U.S. Constitution provides two paths by which the governing charter can be amended. Amendments can rise through Congress, then be sent to the states for adoption, or the state’s themselves can convene a convention to create amendments that would then be returned to the state’s for actual adoption.
Three fourths of the states would have to ratify an amendment in order for it to become part of the Constitution.
Many popular proposals to rein in the power of the federal government – ranging from term limits to requiring a balanced budget – have been all but ignored by Congress. That’s unsurprising: Congress doesn’t want to restrain itself.
The GOP platform plank reads:
We support the Bill of Rights as written by our Founding Fathers and assert the authority of the 10th amendment. We urge our Texas State Legislators to call for a limited Article V Convention of States for the specific purpose of reducing the power of the federal government, including implementation of term limits. Any proposed amendments must be ratified by 3/4 of the states.
While many Americans are unfamiliar with the Article V process for amending the Constitution, the Founding Fathers saw it provided the sovereign states a critical check on a recalcitrant federal government. The Article V process was inserted in the Constitution without controversy or opposition.
The Texas House passed a call for such a convention in 2015, but State Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) blocked it from moving in the Senate.
Activists supporting the “convention of states” project will no doubt be emboldened to bring it before lawmakers again in 2017 by the 80-percent approval the platform plank received.