The movement to have North Carolina join other states in exercising the call for an Article V Convention to propose amendments to the US Constitution has been brewing steadily in our state legislature since 2013.

As consistent supporters and sponsors of the current Resolution HJR235, here are a few reasons we believe North Carolina needs to join this movement: 

It is constitutional

Our founders wisely inserted a means to allow not just Congress to propose amendments, but a path for the states to also propose amendments to the Constitution. That process is found in Article V of our US Constitution.

This is not a new doctrine or novel idea. It has been part of the original Constitution from the beginning and sits there in Article V just waiting to be exercised. The founders knew the future would present matters that would reveal the necessity of making changes to the document they crafted. 

Virginia introduced their 15 resolves at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 which proposed, among other things, providing the states a means of introducing amendments so this power not be left solely to the national Congress. They were concerned that the national government could someday become too powerful and could ignore the states.

The Convention of States process was included to prevent that unhappy circumstance by giving the states a means of reigning in an out-of-control federal government. The states were given the authority to check an obtuse or tone-deaf federal government by utilizing Article V and going around a compromised Congress directly to the states.

For such a time as this

If it was not put in place for a time such as this, it was for a time eerily similar to this. It is clear that the federal government is not going to regulate itself back into a balanced budget or give up any of its usurped power back to the states any time soon.

Congress over many decades with either party in control has managed to simultaneously kick the can down the road and paint themselves into a corner. They have no plan for balancing their budget and paying down our huge national debt of over $34 trillion. If they cut spending, they will likely feel the wrath of every special interest group in the country. If they raise taxes they will just as likely feel the wrath of every taxpayer. What shall they do?

The general response has been to just continue right on their way with the madcap spending and hope the budget will balance itself. So how do you arrest the attention of Congress and compel them to do the right thing? We have to do the job for them.

You give them a balanced budget amendment, term limits, and reduced power from a Convention of the States that is as binding as any of the other previous 27 amendments added to our Constitution. We have a $34 trillion acknowledged national debt and over another $100 trillion in unfunded future liabilities in pensions and other promises Congress cannot possibly keep. For such a time as this the founders gave us an Article V Convention to propose amendments — called by the states, run by the states, delivered by the states.

An “Intervention of the States”

We have to act before the self-destructive behavior of the federal government takes everything down with it. Just as a family will come together and intervene in the life of a drug-addled beloved family member, so we the states must intervene to save our much beloved nation from self destruction by its addiction to deficit spending and expansive federal power.  

Our national government seems to be on auto pilot for ever-more spending and debt accumulation and is beyond the point of controlling itself and dangerously close to a point of no return. The federal government, like a drug addict, needs an outside source of correction and restraint to keep it from destroying itself. Our national government needs the states to step up and say “Enough.” 

That can be done by a Convention of States. The states must be the adults in the room and say “NO” to more deficit spending, “NO” to members of Congress spending a lifetime (theirs… and sometimes yours) in Congress, and  “NO” to the continued bankrupting expansive nature of the federal government.

Time for a national civics lesson

Finally, this is a rare opportunity for a long overdue, yet wonderful, national and statewide civics lesson on what exactly should be the size, cost, and role of government in our lives. Our NC Constitution, in Article 1 Section 35, reads “a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty.” Friends, it is time we “recur” and in a serious way. 

Frequent readers of the Carolina Journal know the purpose of government is to protect our God given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We know that power is loaned to government by the consent of the governed. We know that government (at every level — national, state, and local) is to be our servant not our master. 

We have the unusual chance to bring issues of limited government, separation of powers, fiscal responsibility, federalism, checks and balances, and other vital topics necessary to our survival as a nation, back into our national, state, and local conversations. 

We must engage our fellow citizens in a serious way and point the discussion towards the end we are approaching by allowing government to make its own set of rules, rather than limiting itself to the role it was designed to play.

We must point folks back to our founding and the wisdom of limited government and a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. What better way to do that than with a Convention of States? It will become the news event of our time. It will arrest the attention of our nation. The rest of the world will be watching too!

The words of Alexander Hamilton from Federalist Essay No. 1 ring true today: “…it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

It is time for an Article V Convention of States to propose amendments.