Two resolutions are moving quickly through the Ohio legislature that should make Ohioans and lawmakers very nervous. The measures (HJR2 and SJR1) call for the Congress to hold a convention to propose new amendments to the Constitution. Like similar measures adopted or pending in other states, the resolutions call for Convention attendees to adopt Amendments requiring a balanced federal budget, Congressional term limits and a reduction in federal authority without specifying what that might actually mean.
The Article V approach to amending the U.S Constitution has never been tried before. Article V is vague on questions including procedure, scope, organization, and delegate selection. Numerous commentators predict a “runaway” convention that could significantly alter the freedoms and protections contained in our Country’s most sacred document.
An analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities makes the case for how the process could quickly spiral out of control as delegates, bound to no one and writing their own rules, could propose amendments with only a simple majority. In short, the 26 least populous states representing just 18 percent of the U.S. population, could approve an amendment for ratification.
Even the late Justice Antonin Scalia opposed the idea:
Like the ancient Trojan Horse, this assault is hidden by the seemingly populist messages of ‘balanced budget’ and ‘term limits,’ but in reality, represents an attempt to significantly change our nation’s founding document, potentially bringing about disastrous ramifications.
-State Representative David Leland (D-Columbus)
It’s always tempting to dismiss these kind of radical proposals as inconsequential or unattainable, but given today’s political climate, this bill should be taken seriously. And, because it involves the Constitution of the United States, puts at risk the very freedoms we all take for granted.
Both resolutions are are on the fast track in the Statehouse, but there is still opportunity for public input. HJR 2 will be heard in the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee on Tuesday at 4pm in Statehouse Room 115. SJR1 will be heard — and is flagged for a possible committee vote — in the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday at 10am in the Senate North Hearing Room. Members of the public are encouraged to attend, and if you wish to testify, contact the chair of the committee at least 24 hours in advance to submit an electronic copy of testimony and a witness slip.
Now is the time to make your voice heard, before it is too late. Our country’s founding principles are at stake.