(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana lawmakers are supporting something that’s not been done since 1787 – a constitutional convention.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution requires Congress call a constitutional convention when two-thirds of state legislatures request one. The only constitutional convention ever held was in Philadelphia 225 years ago when national leaders sought to address problems in governing the U.S. which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from Great Britain.
Indiana’s state Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 18 seeking a constitutional convention Tuesday. Resolution author Senate President David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says the country needs a re-balance of powers.
“For too long, we have stood by and watched as the federal government overstepped its constitutional bounds and encroached more and more on the rights and freedoms of states and individual citizens,” Long said. “This legislation is a meaningful effort to do something about it. Our Founders gave the states the power to call amendment conventions in order to hold the federal government accountable.”
At such a convention, amendments to the U.S. Constitution could be proposed and approved. The amendments making it out of the convention would then have to be ratified by three-quarter of the states, 38 states, to be added to the Constitution.
During Senate debate prior to a vote on the resolution, some senators voiced concerns that the convention would turn into a so-called “runaway convention.” Long said there are provisions in the resolution that would keep the subject of the convention limited to states’ rights.
“It includes multiple layers of protection, including a clear limitation on the subject matter eligible for consideration at a convention, as well as the ability to recall any delegate who attempts to act outside of that subject matter. I believe this legislation will serve as a model for other states and should alleviate the concerns of those who worry an Article V amendment convention couldn’t be controlled,” Long said.
Senators voted 32-18 largely along party lines for SJR 18. The resolution must pass the House before it heads to Washington.
Other states including South Dakota and Oklahoma this year have proposed resolutions in support of a constitutional convention, but none have passed.