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A Brief Assessment of the Proposed Convention Rules Adopted by the Assembly of State Legislatures

August 17, 2016

In June 2016 the Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL) issued its “Rules for an Article V Convention for Proposing Amendment(s).” The document is a recommended set of rules for a future amendments convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

An orderly meeting of men and women at a conference table.

In this new Heartland Institute Policy Brief, constitutional scholar Rob Natelson gives the document two cheers, noting:

The ASL rules contain much that is useful and valuable, and a great deal of ASL’s time has been spent well. ... Unfortunately, the ASL rules seem to have been drafted almost on a blank slate, with insufficient attention to the solid experience of prior conventions. Future rule drafters should, therefore, employ the ASL rules as a source of ideas rather than as a model or starting point for actual convention rules.

Natelson notes “conventions of the states” used to take place on average more than once every five years. But there have been no such conventions since 1922. During the twentieth century, lawmakers have lost their knowledge of interstate convention practices, so ASL is filling an important need.

Natelson evaluates ASL’s document along eight themes, including its length (more than ten times longer than the longest set of rules adopted by any previous convention), voting rules (what constitutes a quorum, reliance on supermajority votes), and mandated bipartisanship (whereas prior conventions have been nonpartisan).

The Heartland Institute’s Center for Constitutional Reform was created in 2015 to highlight ways individuals and organizations can help solve the growing threat to the nation’s liberty and prosperity posed by an out-of-control national government. We have come to believe nothing short of constitutional reform can save the nation.

If you are actively engaged in efforts in support of an Article V convention – and we hope you are! –  you owe it to yourself to devote a few minutes to reading Natelson’s analysis.

Robert G. “Rob” Natelson is widely acknowledged to be the country’s leading scholar on the Constitution's amendment procedure, and among the leaders on several other topics.