January 27th, 2012

A Constitutional Amendment from the States


Article 5 of our U.S. Constitution describes mechanisms for amending the Constitution as the need arises.  They are intentionally difficult methods and our Constitution has been amended only 27 times in our 236-year history.  One of those methods has never been used, but – with our national security threatened by our runaway debt – it may be time for history to be made.

Article 5 of our U.S. Constitution allows for amendments to the Constitution to be originated from two sources – either the Congress or the States.  Every one of the existing 27 amendments to the Constitution has originated in the Congress.

But because it has become a matter of urgent national security that the power of Congress to continue to spend our nation into financial oblivion must be limited, it is time for the States to exercise their Constitutional authority to limit the power of Congress to borrow money.

The proposed amendment is called the National Debt Relief Amendment and it’s only 18 words long: “An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States.”

According to the Constitution, if two thirds of the States can agree on the text of the Amendment, they can apply to Congress to call for an Amendment Convention, and Congress is constitutionally obligated to do so.  If the proposed amendment is agreed to at the Convention, then three fourths of the States must ratify the proposed amendment for the amendment to become a part of the Constitution.  The process does not require the consent of the Congress, nor of the President, nor of the governors of the States.

Because this amendment will limit the power of Congress to borrow money, it will have to be initiated by the States.

Curtis Coleman is Chairman of The Institute for Constitutional Policy.


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