How State Legislatures Can Initiate a Balanced-Budget Amendment

The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times. Never has it been amended by state-initiated conventions. Robert Natelson, a law professor for 25 years who now works with the Independence Institute of Denver, hopes to change that. Specifically, he hopes to help persuade state legislatures to initiate and then ratify one or more amendments to restrain federal spending. With a national debt of $16.4 trillion and growing, that may be the only hope for fiscal sanity.

Natelson explained the history and purpose of Article V at Liberty On the Rocks, Flatirons, on January 14. Here is his main presentation.

Natelson also answered a variety of questions about Article V amendments. Here he addresses the problem of state dependence on federal funding, generating grassroots support, passing state measures close enough in wording to trigger a convention, the myth of the “runaway convention,” and the need for “eternal vigilance.”

Does the U.S. Constitution allow for secession? No, argues Natelson:

Natelson argues the Supreme court of the late 1930s and 1940s largely failed to uphold the U.S. Constitution:

Would an Article V convention “run away” into an unrestrained effort to rewrite the Constitution? Did the participants in the Constitutional Convention act within their established authority? Natelson addresses both questions:

Natelson addressed one final question. What were the reasons for the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment, which allowed for the direct election of U.S. Senators? There were real problems with the old system, Natelson argues.

Image: Independence Institute