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Renewing Federalism by Reforming Article V: Defects in the Constitutional Amendment Process and a Reform Proposal

January 18, 2012
By Michael B. Rappaport

According to Rappaport in this CATO Policy Analysis, the constitutional amendment procedure of Article V is defective because the national convention amendment method does not work.

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According to Rappaport in this CATO Policy Analysis, the constitutional amendment procedure of Article V is defective because the national convention amendment method does not work. Because no amendment can be enacted without Congress’s approval, limitations on the federal government that Congress opposes are virtually impossible to pass. This has prevented the enactment of several amendments that would have constrained the government: balanced budget limitation, a line-item veto, congressional term limits. Article V should be reformed to allow two-thirds of the state legislatures to propose a constitutional amendment which would then be ratified or rejected by the states, acting through state conventions or state ballot measures. Such a return of power to the states would militate against our overly centralized government by helping to restore the federalist character of our Constitution.