Convention of States legislation introduced

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Legislation has been pre-filed this week in the South Carolina House of Representatives calling for an Article V Convention of States. South Carolina and Virginia became the first two states to call for the Article V Convention for the express and sole purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.

L. Scott Lingamfelter, a retired Army Colonel and a Delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates, is the primary sponsor of the Virginia legislation. A number of other states will soon follow, including Florida later this week.

The primary sponsor of the legislation in South Carolina is Rep. Bill Taylor (R-Aiken). “It’s no secret that Americans aren’t happy with Washington D.C. Career politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, have ignored the best interests of this country allowing debt to spiral out of control while stripping States of their rightful power and robbing citizens of their personal liberty,” Taylor said. “This isn’t new; it’s been happening for decades. Washington will never limit its own power. They’ll never pass amendments to balance the budget, put term limits on themselves or give the states their rightful Constitutional authority.”

In filing the South Carolina legislation, Rep. Taylor said, “Fortunately, our Founders knew the federal government might one day become too large and too powerful and they specifically inserted a mechanism that gives states a lawful and orderly mechanism to restrain a runaway federal government; it’s Article V of the Constitution.”

Article V of the Constitution provides that if two-thirds of the states submit an application to Congress, Congress must call a Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution. Each state sends an appointed delegation to the convention, where the states discuss and vote upon amendment proposals.

A Convention of states can only propose amendments. By itself, it cannot change one word of the Constitution. Each state represented in a convention would have only one vote on any proposed amendments to the United States Constitution. Any amendment coming out of an Article V Convention of States would still require 3/4ths of the states (38) to actually become part of the Constitution. Conversely, it would only take 13 states to thwart any amendment proposal. This is a rigorous process that by design, will take a lot of agreement among a lot of states. The process is identical to the process used for all 27 existing amendments to the Constitution with the notable difference that proposed amendments will come from the states rather than Washington D.C.

The Convention of States Project (COS), initiated by Citizens for Self Governance for the purpose of stopping the runaway power of the federal government, is in the process of building a nationwide, grassroots network of citizen-support. So far, thirty eight states, including South Carolina have leadership and a growing grassroots effort. Bob Menges, who teaches Constitutional Law, and is known for speaking on the need for a return to limited government under the Constitution, is the State Director for the Convention of States (COS) Project in South Carolina.

“When the framers agreed on September 15th, 1787 to add a provision in Article V for the states to amend the Constitution, they in effect were telegraphing a message to us in 2013, a message to us showing us the way back inside the fence of the Constitution, a way back to what Thomas Jefferson called the “chains of the Constitution,” said Menges.

Delegate Lingamfelter, of Virginia, has been leading the Article V Convention initiative for many months. He said, “If our Founders were here today and heard us complaining about Federal overreach they would tell us “look, we gave you a remedy, Article V of the Constitution. Use it to rein in the excesses and reestablish the balance we had in mind when we created the Federalist system’. Those of us offering this approach are simply doing what the Founders provided for us to do to keep a balanced and orderly system with the Federal Government doing their job and the states doing theirs”.

The success of the COS Project depends to a large extent on American citizens with the grassroots organization mobilizing across the country.

“Legislators must know that our grassroots team will have their backs if they support a Convention of States. This network of like-minded people will show strong grassroots support and guarantee the success of the COS Project Article V initiative”, said Menges. He added, “We are recruiting District Captains in all 124 legislative districts in South Carolina and we welcome those who are willing to work to restrain an out of control federal government.” Menges can be contacted via email at cos.sd.sc@bellsouth.net.

Rep. Taylor sees this as a non-partisan initiative. “This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue – this is an American issue and all sides should join together to course-correct a federal government that has way overstepped its bounds.” He added, “The Convention of States is the safest, most legitimate, lawful and most effective means to solve the problems in Washington. The Constitution is a brilliant document, and it’s high time we use it as the Founders intended.”