Some lawmakers seek U.S. constitutional convention

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A small but determined group of state lawmakers from some 30 states gathered in Indiana on Thursday to lay the groundwork for something that has not happened since 1787 in Philadelphia: a convention to revise the U.S. Constitution.

The bar they would have to clear -- winning approval from 34 state legislatures -- seems impossibly high, but the group of roughly 100 legislators, most of them Republicans, is pressing on.

Fueling them is a firm belief that the federal government is increasingly overstepping its bounds and has forgotten that it was the states which gave it life at the birth of the United States, not the other way around.

"We're trying to save the Constitution and the powers that are inherent there, the powers in the 10th, 9th (amendments) where the power is reserved to the states and to the people," said Rep. Jordan Ulery, a New Hampshire Republican.

"A lot of people don't understand what that convention is, and as part of a convention of the states, we're going to have to teach our own states," he said.

The 9th and 10th Amendments say that the government cannot encroach on personal rights not already written in the Constitution and that federal powers not written in the Constitution are reserved for the states and the people.

Indiana's Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long, a leader of the effort, has cited the expansion of the federal debt and President Barack Obama's health care law as examples of the national government overreaching.

The meetings, dubbed the Mount Vernon Assembly, opened Thursday in the House chamber of the Indiana Capitol in Indianapolis and continue Friday. They follow sessions last December at George Washington's home in Virginia.

Actually calling a convention that would allow for the amending of the Constitution needs the consent of 34 of the 50 states, or a two-thirds majority. While conservatives might press a new convention to bolster the power of states, it also might open the way for a host of other issues to be raised.

Most of the delegates to this week's sessions are Republicans who want to bypass Congress because they do not believe the document can be changed through the federal government.

The Indiana meeting — catered and in air conditioned rooms — was a far cry from the convention held 227 years ago, during a sweltering stretch in Philadelphia, with some delegates arriving by horseback rather than airplane and automobile today.

The Constitution has been amended 17 times since it was ratified. The most recent approved in 1992, established that changes in Congressional pay will not take effect until after the subsequent elections.

Organizers said lawmakers from 33 states were invited and about 30 attended, focusing Thursday on rules and regulations for a future constitutional conference. Unlike the Philadelphia conference of all white men, this group included a few black and women lawmakers.

"Our task is to lay the foundation of this building as solidly as we can, so that it can stand tall for future generations," Long said referring to the Constitution. "So it can provide a shelter necessary to protect those who use this building for the advancement of state's rights, whether today, tomorrow, or at any time in the future."

But the hurdles — political and practical — to actually calling a convention were clear Thursday. In some cases the lawmakers from their respective states had come of their own accord, and were not appointed as a formal representative of their state legislature.

The group plans to meet again in December. Ohio Speaker Pro Tem Matt Huffman, who presided over Thursday's meeting, said the group will likely work on the issue for many years.


  • fools
    If those fools would spend their energy making our government work we would be better off

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Only half a million TV Viewers? And thats an increase? I knew Indycar was struggling but I didn't know it was that bad. Hell, if NASCAR hits 5 Million viewers everyone starts freaking out saying its going down hill. It has a long way to before Indycar even hits NASCAR's bad days.

  2. IU has been talking that line for years with no real progress even with the last Dean, Dr. Brater. Why will an outsider, Dr. Hess, make a difference? With no proof of additional resources (cash in the bank), and a concrete plan to move an academic model that has been outdated for decades with a faculty complacent with tenure and inertia, I can count on IU to remain the same during the tenure of Dr. Hess. One ought to look to Purdue and Notre Dame for change and innovation. It is just too bad that both of those schools do not have their own medical school. Competition might wake up IU. My guess is, that even with those additions to our State, IU will remain in its own little world squandering our State's tax dollars. Why would any donor want to contribute to IU with its track record? What is its strategy to deal with the physician shortage for our State? New leadership will not be enough for us to expect any change.

  3. How do you think the Bridges got approved? I spent a couple days researching PAC's and individual contributions to some city council members during that time. My printouts were inches thick on the two I concentrated on. Finally gave up. Was disgusted with all the donations, and who they were from. Would have taken me days and days to compile a complete list. Tried to give it to the Star reporter, but he thought it was all just fine. (and apparently he was treated well himself) He ended up being laid off or fired though. And then of course, there was land donated to the dad's club, or city, as a partial payoff. All done in the shining example of "charity." No, none of these contributions are a coincidence.

  4. I agree what kind of help or if any will be there for Dr. Ley's patients. I was a patient myself.

  5. What about the hundreds of patients who sought this doctor for the right reasons, to quit drugs. what option do these patients now have, experience horrible withdrawl or return to heroin?? those are the choices. what about the children of these former addicts who's parent(s) WILL not b able to maintain their job, for @ least 2 weeks.. There needs to b an emergency clinic opened for these patients.