Initiatives v Oligarchy

Our Founders' Warning: “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” (Thomas Jefferson)


The purpose of this State Initiative supporting a 2nd Method Limited Article V Constitutional Convention for a U.S. Constitutional Initiatives Amendment, is to provide the People with on-going Direct Initiative power to correct and override their Government when it becomes misrepresentative, ineffective, or corrupt. It authorizes some direct democracy by the People using nationwide initiatives based on the Athenian initiative system.

This U.S. Constitutional Amendment must define the Initiative process in sufficient detail to deny Congress the ability to subvert it. Therefore, this Amendment must be precise, complete, and relatively long.

State Initiative

Twenty-six states, as well as Washington, D.C., offer state initiative and/or veto referendum rights for their citizens.
Courtesy © Ballotpedia

In the 24 Initiative States (Courtesy © I&RI USC) the People can prepare a State Initiative and initiate applications to Congress for a 2nd Method Limited Article V Constitutional Convention for US Voter Initiatives by:

  • Direct Constitutional Initiatives in16 States : AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, IL, MI, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OH, OK, OR, and SD
  • Direct Statute Initiatives in 3 States: ID, UT, and WA
  • Indirect Constitutional Initiatives in 2 States: MA and MS
  • Indirect Statute Initiatives in 3 States: AK, ME, and WY.

References incorporate two documents (Constitution Orders and Assembly Rules) because they are needed to enable the Amendment, but may later be repealed when the Amendment is in full effect.

The Draft anticipates and avoids potential problems in the amendment procedures that Congress has neglected to specify. It uses the US Constitution’s 2nd Method of amending, which does not require Congressional consent.

There are many reasons why this will benefit this State. However, its formal justification is based on the Congressional denial—in law or in principle—of the People’s constitutional rights under the Preamble and Article I Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

Limited Article V Convention

State Initiatives create “same subject” Limited Convention Amendment applications to Congress without risk of a Constitutional challenge that any State has violated Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 (powers prohibited of States)


This is currently a draft document subject to changes suggested by the People, for adoption by State Legislatures, and for proposal at a Limited Article V Convention of the States.

The easiest method to start the amendment process will probably be to pass this State Initiative in several of the 16 Direct Constitutional Initiative States.

This preface, article titles and numbers, and explanations are not part of the Initiative.

0: State Constitutional Initiative

A State Constitutional Initiative for an application by the [State Name] Legislature to the United States Congress for an Article V Limited 2nd Method Convention to propose an U.S. Constitutional Amendment authorizing U.S. Citizens’ Initiatives.

Explanation of State Constitutional Initiative

Each state has a standard format to start an Initiative, Referendum, or Act formally; e.g., it will generally include a unique number, the House, session, date, sponsoring legislators, etc.

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1: State Problems

Among many State problems and offenses against the people of this State, the U.S. Congress denies their constitutional rights in law and/or in principle:

  1. The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution explicitly intends the federal Government to promote the general well-being of the people. Instead, Congress excessively promotes special interests over the people’s well-being.
  2. Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution asserts that the people shall choose their congressional representatives. To excess, Congress and special interests influence selection of the slate of candidates, financially exclude excellent candidates, influence candidate loyalties, and influence the media content presented to the public.
  3. These State problems and offenses greatly harm the people, these United States, and this State. Currently, only Congress has the power to resolve these problems. Congress, however, has long demonstrated that it is unwilling to implement effective solutions and that it is unable to reform itself. Over many years, federal government has fully institutionalized the problems; they are now the intractable norm.

Explanation of State Problems

This perspective on the Problems addresses the constitutional issues to lay a foundation for the next section. The web page on more general range of Problems is probably too extensive and argumentative to be included in a bill. The form shown here is a rough equivalent of an indictment that includes two of the most egregious legal issues and omits naming other offences.

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2: States’ Responsibility for Solution

This State recognizes its responsibility to help produce a solution to these problems:

  1. The U.S. Declaration of Independence holds that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive … it is the Right of the People to alter … it.”
  2. In Federalist #85, the Founding Fathers recognized that “the persons delegated to the administration of the national government will always be disinclined to yield up any portion of the authority of which they were once possessed.” They wrote the Constitution certain that “we may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.”
  3. In their wisdom, the Founding Fathers included in Article V a second method of amending the U.S. Constitution so that the States could resolve these types of problems, which are otherwise unsolvable by constitutional means.
  4. This State’s Constitution states:
    1. Article [?], Section [?]: “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”
    2. Article [?] Section [?]: “All Elections shall be free and equal, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.”
    3. Article [?], Section [?]: “The first power reserved by the people is the initiative.”

Explanation of States’ Responsibility for Solution

This summarizes why state legislators have responsibility to find a solution to the problems. They have all take oaths of office to uphold their state duties. A covenant exists in each state between the people's consent to the States' political power and the state's guarantees to protect the people's rights. This is a proper contract since the people have transferred many of their rights to the state. This is explicitly stated in one form or another in every State Constitution and every State has an absolute obligation to protect its people's rights.

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3: Structure of Solution

Nationwide Citizens’ the only power structure that provides a solution to these problems. History has proved that Congress cannot protect the people against congressional excesses and deficiencies. Constitutional separation of powers bars such power from the President, Judiciary, or States. Appointed or elected reform boards cannot have this power. Constitutionally, this leaves only the people to protect against congressional excesses. However, congressional excesses have largely nullified the people’s federal voting power. That leaves only nationwide Citizens’ Initiatives. And only the States, using their second method of calling a limited article V constitutional amendment, then authorizing nationwide Citizens initiatives can legally and constitutionally resolve the problem.

Explanation of Structure of Solution

In essence, the argument here is that this approach is the only structure that can to do the job.

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4: Legislative Intent

The Legislature’s responsibilities to the people compel action. This State shall support a Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The intent of this Initiative, Referendum, or Act is to start a constitutional process that could lead to Citizens’ Initiatives for change. Given the nature of the legislation, the State shall seek the people’s approval by initiative or referendum. If other states do likewise, referenda will also demonstrate the unity of the U.S. people and the States, bringing momentous constitutional authority to bear on any procedural disputes with Congress.

Explanation of Legislative Intent

Passage of this bill is only the start of a lengthy process towards a constitutional amendment. Though the States have not had a Convention since the one framing the current Constitution, any Article V Second Method procedural disputes will pitch Congress against both the States and the People. Theoretically, at least, the States and the People carry great constitutional weight.

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5: Prototype Text Of Initiatives Amendment

This State’s prototype text of the U.S. Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment for consideration by the Convention is shown with its Constitution Orders and Assembly Rules references in three attachments.

Explanation of Prototype Text Of Initiatives Amendment

The Convention of the States will generate the final text or, if Congress decides to preempt the Convention as it always has in the past, then by Congress's acceptance of the text. Thus, the application must be adequate to deny Congress the opportunity to water down or finesse the Amendment.

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6: Legislature Application for Limited Convention

In accordance with Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the Legislature shall make the application. Upon approval of the initiative or referendum by the people of this State, its State Legislature shall prepare and vote on a separate bill that applies to Congress to call a limited Convention for proposing only a Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment.

Explanation of Legislature Application for Limited Convention

Under Article V, the state legislatures must apply to Congress for a Convention. Some states, however, believe that a non-literal interpretation is possible and that a state initiative or referendum can apply. However, this would introduce a non-essential issue, which Congress could use to delay the entire amendment process, perhaps for years.
In the past, Congress has found the idea of a Limited Convention far more acceptable than a general convention. Congress claims a general convention could become a runaway convention, though this is very doubtful. Nevertheless, a limited Convention on a single subject avoids another potential dispute.
The downside of a limited convention is that it enables Congress to preempt the convention by proposing a similar amendment itself—as it has always done in the past. However, if Congress thwarted the States' will by proposing a significantly different amendment, then the States' should righteously apply for an immediate unlimited Convention to defend their State rights.

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7: Avoiding Dispute

Congress has favored its retention of excessive powers by neglecting to specify the application procedures. Nevertheless, insofar as it is possible and reasonable, this State shall comply with the latest congressional draft bills, debates and research relating to the application procedures and avoid dispute.

Explanation of Avoiding Dispute

To avoid disputes with Congress, it is best to follow what documents are available on the way Congress should have defined the second method procedures. This will avoid several potential minefields that could cause delays and litigation in the Supreme Court.

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8: Agreement Or Compact

In general, the People shall use their right to coordinate their Initiatives Amendment throughout the U.S. This State shall be aware that to  cooperate and coordinate with other States on a U.S. Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment could result in an accusation of entering into any Agreement or Compact with another State contrary to Article 1 Section 10 Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution.

Explanation of Agreement Or Compact

In the U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 10, Clause 3, the states are enjoined from not entering into any Agreement or Compact with another State. Again, this avoids a possible minefield.

Nevertheless, the States applications should be as nearly identical as possible, since the closer they are the more Congress is obliged to consider them "same subject" or "same general subject" and include them in the number of applications received. If this bill proves good enough for many states to use, it can help achieve this objective.

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9: Application Procedures

The State’s application shall conform to the constitutional conventions procedures bills considered in recent Congresses.

  1. Send two copies of the application to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  2. Send the applications within thirty days of their adoption by the legislature.
  3. Certify the adoption and date adopted by the legislature’s Secretary of State or equivalent office.
  4. In addition, the States should designate their own recipient to whom a copy of all state application documents should be lodged and time-stamped for independent record keeping.

Explanation of Application Procedures

In general, by placing the application procedures in the bills, the states will have the same procedures without having to any Agreement or Compact.

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10: Resubmit

Once made, this State shall not rescind its application. However, to revise or renew the application, the legislature may re-submit it to Congress. When resubmitting, the State may modify the application from that approved in a State initiative or referendum, provided that the intentions and meanings in the referendum are retained. If the modifications are substantial, the State shall resubmit the revised application as a referendum to the people for their ratification before re-submitting it to Congress.

Explanation of Resubmit

Congress has not clarified what happens when a state withdraws an application—another minefield to avoid. If a state demonstration of a citizens' initiatives assembly reveals deficiencies, or if other states submit applications containing improvements, or if the time limit on the application is near expiry date, this state legislature may re-submit or renew its application.

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11: Passage In Both Houses

Both Houses shall pass this bill and the subsequent application by the Legislature in identical versions and the presiding officer of each House of shall sign the exact text of the resolution.

Explanation of Passage In Both Houses

n the past, some States have passed applications in only one House and an appropriate officer did not sign the exact text. (Of course, the two-house requirement does not apply in Nebraska, which is the unicameral State.)

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12: Convention Delegates’ Commitment

Those selected to attend the Convention shall be known strongly support with commitment to their State’s wishes as generally described in this Bill.

Explanation of Convention Delegates’ Commitment

Congress's fear of a runaway convention justifies this this assurance. Those attending the Convention act in a Federal Function. This means that their state oaths cannot legally bind them. Consequently, there can be no guarantee. Nevertheless, taking the oath provides a powerful moral and ethical incentive to comply with State wishes.

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13: Time Limit For Applications

This bill shall be inoperative after a time limit of fifty years from the date of the submission hereof to the Congress, unless by this Legislature’s count the legislatures of two thirds of the several states shall have applied for a Convention for proposing a Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment. This State shall resubmit this application or revised application for a Convention for proposing a Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment in or during or in the closest assembly possible to the third month of every third year to ensure that Congress cannot invoke laches.

Explanation of Time Limit For Applications

This clarifies the amount of time that Congress must consider this Application to Call a Constitutional Convention open and valid. Amendment XIX in 1920 gave women the right to vote — 51 years after Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucy Stone established the first national suffrage organizations in 1869.

It prevents Congress from invoking the doctrine of laches to claim the application is no longer valid.

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14: Time Limit to Call The Convention

Congress shall call a Convention as required by Article V of the U.S. Constitution, in a timely manner not to exceed one year from the receipt of applications from two thirds of the States. If Congress prevaricates, procrastinates, or denies the States’ Constitutional rights to hold an Article V Convention, this State shall join with other States to enforce the People’s Rights including those set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

Explanation of Time Limit to Call The Convention

In 1787, Congress called the original convention in under six months from application, so one year is entirely reasonable in today's speeded-up world. The important point about setting a time limit is that if Congress delays over one year, the states can sue in the U.S. Federal Court system and may invoke mandamus.

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15: Adoption

The Secretary of State shall submit this act to the people for their adoption and ratification, or rejection, at the next general election to be held in this State, in accordance with Article [?], section [?] of the state Constitution and the laws adopted to facilitate its operation.

Explanation of Adoption

Each state will have its own standard wording to initiate approval

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16: Captions

Part headings or captions used in this act shall not constitute any part of the law.

Explanation of Captions

Captions are to guide the reader, and are normally not included in the final version.

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17: References

Information presented at the website and its references may help readers to understand the act, but shall not constitute any part of this law.

Explanation of References

This reference is for the readers' information and convenience and a State may wish to omit it.

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18: Severability

If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected.

Explanation of Severability

Severability is a standard section in many state bills.

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19: Date Effective

This act shall become effective thirty days after ratification by the people.

Explanation of Date Effective

The effective date is included for completeness.

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20: Title

The title of this act shall be known as the U.S. Citizens’ Initiative Act.

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Explanation of Title

Many states require that the title should be part of the bill so that no one can later add a misleading title.

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