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With Election Day nearly a month away, a group of delegates from around the nation convened in Williamsburg to express their desire to curtail the power of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.
The Convention of States Project, comprised of legislators and policy experts representing all 50 states, are hosting a simulated Article V convention in Williamsburg this week. Their goal is to demonstrate the means by which citizens and state legislators can regain what they believe is a lost Constitutional right of self-governance, and prevent or reverse federal misuses of power.
“America’s Founders meant for us to use Article V—it is in the Constitution because they inherently knew that a consolidation of power at the federal level would eventually become corrupted,” Mark Meckler, President of Citizens for Self-Governance and co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said in a release announcing the event. “The protection of liberty and securing of our rights now falls to us, because the federal government has proven unwilling to apply the checks and balances the Constitution provides.”
Citizens for Self-Governance is the parent organization of the Convention of States Project, and according to their website CSG aims to “elevate awareness and provide resources, advocacy, and education to grassroots organizations and individuals exercising their rights to govern themselves.”
Article V of the Constitution allows for states to propose and ratify Constitutional amendments. Two-thirds of state legislators are needed to call a convention and propose an amendment, and three-fourths are subsequently needed to pass it into law. This process is independent of Congress, which does not have the authority to block such amendments. Delegates representing all 50 states convened in the Williamsburg Lodge Thursday to discuss ideas for amendments they would propose at such a convention.
“The states and federal governments are out of balance,” said Utah’s District 47 Representative Ken Ivory. “Like any system, it needs repair and maintenance. The founders knew that and that’s what Article V is all about.”
No Constitutional amendment has come from an Article V convention- they have all gone through Congress- but nevertheless, the delegates remained optimistic that the simulation could pave the way for a convention to pass an amendment.
“I think the founders knew what they were doing, and if we use the tool they gave us we have a pretty good chance of success,” said Ivory.
The amendments, according to a press release from the Convention of States Project, will be designed to “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and set term limits for its officials and for Members of Congress.”
The simulated convention will run from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Friday, and delegates will cast their votes on proposed amendments in a morning and afternoon session. The organization has also rented space in the Williamsburg Library at 515 Scotland Street to host a rally and convention viewing party throughout the day Friday.
Whether their simulated convention is a precursor an actual convention remains to be seen.
“This is what the founders intended for us to do,” said Meckler. “With this tool they gave us the right to amend our federal government and the moral obligation to do so.”