Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
“Frequently asked questions (FAQ) or Questions and Answers (Q&A), are listed questions and answers, all supposed to be commonly asked in some context, and pertaining to a particular topic. The format is commonly used on … online forums, where certain common questions tend to recur.…The term became more frequently used to refer to the list, and a text consisting of questions and their answers is often called a FAQ regardless of whether the questions are actually frequently asked, if they are asked at all,” (Courtesy © Wikipedia)
FAQ are especially important in this website’s context because of the range and complexity of the topics under consideration. They elaborate on problem, solution, and campaign issues and are frequently referenced from other sections in the website.
Initiatives Amendment Executive Summary
This summary of the Initiatives Amendment addresses the problem that Congress has abused the People’s trust by creating systemic Congressional corruption, dysfunction, and inefficiency. Moreover, it has usurped our Democratic Republic by transformation into an Oligarchy controlled by the very wealthy individuals; executives, directors, and major stockholders of domestic and international corporations; aided by 12,000 lobbyists who include over 350 retired congresspersons. Congress permits massively merged media corporations that propagandize their issues, facilitate divide and rule strategies. Hundreds of books, studies, and articles leave no doubt about the reality and severity of these Problems. However, Congress cannot and will not produce an effective Solution because Oligarchy bestows Congresspersons with far greater personal benefits than the People can provide. Consequently, Congress strongly accommodates Oligarchy’s wishes and does not consider the People’s wishes. Our government of the people has become by the Oligarchy, for the Oligarchy. (Download PDF) (more…)
The following table shows the principal Pro Con features of the Initiatives Amendment:
Estimate by Citizens Against Government Waste
In response to a request by President Reagan, industrialist Peter Grace and columnist Jack Anderson formed the Grace Commission in 1982. After two years, the Commission published its findings in the 21,000-page Grace Commission Report. Since then the Grace Commission evolved into a nonprofit organization called Citizens Against Government Waste with over a million members. They have worked to make that vision a reality and, in a little over a decade, have helped save taxpayers $687 billion through the implementation of Grace Commission’s findings and cost effective recommendations.
One of their publications called Prime Cuts 2001 is a current blueprint for more efficient government, and estimates that $159 billion per year can be cut from government spending.
Federal Election Costs
Presidential federal election costs are spread amongst federal, state, county and local authorities. The most credible estimate of their total comes from a Voting Technology Project by Caltech and MIT dated July 2001. They estimate that the total cost of a federal election, excluding special one-time costs, is about $1 billion, or about $10 per voter. For this reason, it is not cost effective to have annual votes on Initiatives, but to make them coincide with the federal elections.
The competence of the average U.S. voter receives it greatest test when twelve of them are randomly selected as jury persons to decide the truth in matters ranging up to death sentences and billion dollar legal awards. This is our guarantee of justice under the constitution. It works surprisingly well, and when it occasionally goes wrong it is more the result of being given incorrect information than that the jury is not competent — it is seldom that a judge overrules a jury verdict. There is no good reason why we should not extend the democratic principle behind jury service to a much larger IQA that statistically is far more likely to make valid decisions.
Yes, to a degree the IQA ‘s mandatory duty is onerous. But the general benefit far outweighs the individual inconvenience.
It is important that the IQA is a good cross-section of the People so that everyone’s views are included. When a Citizen is randomly selected to serve as a Member of the IQA, that Member represents about 406,000 Citizens who have similar views. If that Member refuses to serve, a replacement will represent a different 406,000 views; the views of the original 406,000 Citizens will not be represented.
Public Opinion Polls and Surveys on Nationwide Initiatives
Polling data on this issue is sparse. However, the limited public opinion data shows strong support for the use of nationwide initiatives. Averaging the four polls, Citizens are 63.5% in favor and 21.3% against Initiatives.
- In a 1987 Gallup opinion poll (Craig, p271), the following question was asked of U.S. citizens: “Should we trust our elected officials to make public decisions on all issues, or should the voters have a direct say on some issues.” The responses were 76% in favor vs. 18% opposed, and 6% unsure.
- The Washington Post (Merida) reported a 1994 poll showing 64% of those interviewed favored a national referendum. (more…)
Assessing the Risk of Tyranny by the Majority or a Minority
Risk of tyranny by the majority or tyranny by a minority caused by ratifying this Amendment is compared with the current risk. It focuses only on the relative degrees of tyranny and avoids digression into the voluminous and contentious philosophical issues of tyranny in general. The practical objective is to determine if this Amendment will make tyranny more or less likely.
- Build momentum by downloading the summary as a PDF or copy and paste text. Email copies to friends, associates, and interested parties. Also, post summary and comments to your social media.
- Each section enables you to reply, comment, and blog – to control your own future actively rather than concede to Oligarchy. Your point of view helps.
- Please donate if you can–we are frugal but much work is required.
- We need pro bono constitutional law and create video help.
A Brief Citizens’ Guide to Lobby Successfully
The key to successful efforts to lobby and persuade a state legislature to support the Initiatives Amendment is to find several legislators who will become committed advocates. Finding these advocates is largely a process of luck and of trial and error. The Citizen who decides to take on the job needs to find legislators who are predisposed to listen and support the Plan.
Project Smart Vote
Project Smart Vote Links to State and Federal Elected Representatives and candidates. It is a very reputable nonprofit citizen’s organization dedicated to serving all Americans with accurate and unbiased information for electoral decision-making. It gathers and maintains data on over 42,000 candidates. You can quickly find your specific candidates and elected representatives by automatic lookup using your nine-digit (ZIP+4) mail code—or using your street address if you do not know your ZIP+4 mail code:
In November of 1998, 401 of the 435 sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives sought reelection. Of those 401, all but six were reelected. In other words, incumbents seeking reelection to the House had a better than 98% success rate. U.S. Senators seeking reelection were only slightly less fortunate–slightly less than 90% of the Senate incumbents who sought reelection in 1996 held on to their seats.
What is it about sitting members of Congress that makes them so hard to beat? Are incumbents just better candidates (on average) or is the deck somehow stacked against challengers?
The Bleak Future for Our Children is an Outrage
A bleak future or our Children is relative, but before 1980 we were usually ranked the greatest nation; in 2017 we are ranked about 20th.
Dick Morris and Aileen McGann, in their 2007 book “Outrage”, estimate that the total wastage cost is at least 369 billion dollars per year and climbing. This is consistent with the grand total of earlier estimates by the authors, most of which are discussed above.
America has repeatedly been said to have the best political system in the world despite its imperfections—an outrage ideal that congresspersons and wealthy special interest groups reiterate in the hope that the People will ignore current Problems. Since independence, America has outperformed all others for two centuries. During this period, some politically instigated waste has been inevitable. Nevertheless, it has never been great enough to undermine America’s success.
However, convergence of unprecedented special interest influence and the astonishingly persuasive power of today’s media technology have created a government by and for the special interests rather than by and for the People. Never before in U.S. history have the consequences for our nation been so great and so damaging. Our nation’s and our children’s futures are bleak if we take no action. (more…)
Congressional planning is primarily concerned with short-term issues rather than critical long-term issues; planning is regularly synchronized with political re-election cycles. However, we live in a time when massive changes are occurring over one or more decades. Such issues are often global and difficult to solve politically, though they will have profound affects for all Americans whose much-loved decedents may live perhaps 30 to 60 years into the future.
Initiatives per Federal Election
There is a limit on the number and complexity of Direct Initiatives per Federal Election that can be assimilated by the nationwide electorate during a federal election. About 12 Direct Initiatives and 12 Indirect Initiatives every two years is almost certainly sustainable without overloading the electorate and the IQA. Experience will adjust these numbers.
Critical Problems Intractable for Congress
Our nation can no longer afford the luxury of Congress finding some critical problems intractable. Though we expect our elected representatives to heed our concerns, they cannot for the following reasons: (more…)
Some Congresspersons support Nationwide Initiatives because they sought election to make a difference. They will see them a necessary and useful tool to making a difference and improve the lives of U.S. citizens, rather than any significant diminution or threat to their power.. (more…)
Many comments received so far tend to prevent Solution, saying for example:
- Yes, it is a good idea.
- Yes, we need it.
- But many Citizens fear that “THEY” or the “powers that be” will prevent Solution and never allow this Amendment to pass.
Referendums are generally prepared by Government and submitted to the People for their approval. In some U.S. states and cities, a “referendum petition” can be used by the People to overturn legislation. Referendums are widely used around the world to legitimize actions that Governments want to take. Often the right to initiate referendum is presumed to be a proper power of Government without explicit authority granting the government that right. For example, the U.S. Constitution is silent on the matter. The U.S. government has never tested whether or not the Supreme Court would determine that it has the right to hold referendums. Following The Netherlands’ 2005 referendum rejecting the EU Charter, there remain only four major established democracies that have never held a national referendum: India, Israel, Japan, and the United States.
Congressperson Recall by Electorate
Congressperson could be subject to recall by electorate. This would occur as a local action and is beyond the scope of a nationwide Initiative and this Planned Amendment.
Congress Create Policies that Harm the People and Favor Special Interests
International corporate interests help harm our middle class and send it into decline. Export of jobs to increase executive pay and boost corporate profit—2.7 million manufacturing jobs lost from 2000 through 2003—will continue if unresolved. Many major U.S. corporations have now become multi-national, so they look for the lowest costs and the nationality of their employees does not affect them significantly. Their special interest groups and lobbyists have a multi-national rather than U.S. agenda. The Gilens and Page 2014 article provides recent confirmation. (more…)
Unfunded State and Inter-generational Debts
Congress hides huge unfunded government overspending in financial obligations unilaterally imposed on the States, Cities and in Inter-generational debts upon our children. For example:
Our representatives oppose the People in their interests on vital long-term social, ethical and legal issues. For example:
- Massive media mergers have allowed special interest groups increasingly to oppose the people, filtering and manipulating news information—and thereby their excessive influence over our government. This is part of a trend to ignore monopoly laws. For most of the last century, these laws were the People’s assurance that our capitalist system would remain competitive and efficient.
- Cheaper medical drugs are available in other countries at international pharmaceutical prices but not in the U.S. Moreover, congressional legislation prevents the federal government from negotiating the prices of drugs supplied through Medicare. In both cases, the congressional legislation ignores American free-market anti-monopoly ideals.
- Congress is unwilling to propose a constitutional Amendment setting congressional term limits that would prevent their own almost-permanent reelection. In January 1997, a proposed Constitutional Amendment set House and Senate limits of 12 years each, for a combined total of 24 years in Congress. However, it failed to get the necessary support to pass. Public opinion is strongly in favor of congressional term limits.
Congress and Special Interest Groups Deny the People’s Choice of Representation
Congresspersons aided by Special Interest Groups go to great lengths to assure reelection. Their cumulative efforts over time result in de facto control of the election process to the degree that our vote is no longer for a meaningful choice and most votes are wasted because they cannot affect any outcome. Congress has the power to remedy these problems, but it takes no effective action. (more…)
Congress Encourages Excessive Lobbying
Special interests make massive contributions to buy media to help ensure election of their Candidates. Special interests finance Washington lobbyists to represent them to Government. Though special interests have always influenced our government (as is their right under Amendment I) only in recent times have they been able to use such powerful and expensive media for excessive lobbying. To encourage a spiral of increasing lobbying, Congresspersons are taking the political maxim “reward your friends and punish your enemies” to new extremes. (more…)
Founding Fathers Contemporaneous Writings
The Founding Fathers in their contemporaneous writings and words (especially the Federalist Papers) shed much light on what they intended the Constitution to accomplish, how it might go wrong, and how it was to be corrected, as shown in some examples below:
Note to the reader: Even though ratification of this Amendment by state referenda may be possible, it would throw another risk into the ratification process, and the path is unlikely to be followed. Rather State Referendum and Initiatives may be used to prod ratification support in State Legislatures.
Ratification of an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by State Referenda
(This review argues in favor of the case that state referenda can ratify a U.S. Constitutional Amendment.)
The following table shows the six key enabling documents (with links) presented in this website: (more…)
The following flowchart shows an overview of how the Amendment advances from first step to ratification:
Amendment advances are explained in a straightforward flowchart consisting of processing steps or activities (rectangular), decisions (diamonds), terminations (rounded rectangles), and arrows (flow lines).
It shows three basic paths:
- The best path is to combine the Constitutional Authority of the States with that of the People by use of State Referendums.
- A satisfactory and probably easier and faster path is to use State Initiatives to ensure State cooperation, followed by a Limited Article V Convention of the States.
- The Amendment process fails if less than 34 States apply to Congress or if less than 38 States fail to ratify.
The issue is that the Guarantee Clause might be used by opponents who might hold that it might Forbid Initiatives in a Republican form of Government
The Constitution’s guarantee clause does not explicitly forbid initiatives or allow direct democracy; the issue is unresolved. Specifically, Article IV, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution (the Guarantee Clause) states that: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”
Note that this Solution shall check and remedy representative democracy, not supersede it.
The Constitution Preamble Defines its Ownership and Authority:
Constitution Preamble: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (more…)
The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787, a hundred years before the discovery of Aristotle’s key texts describing the ancient Athenian experiences with democracy and include initiatives. Texts that they had quoted Greeks who were critical of democracy—especially Socrates who advocated a republic led by philosophers. Despite 140 years of direct democracy in New England town meetings starting as early as the 1640’s, there was no evidence that these small democracies could be scaled up for nationwide benefit. To the Founding Fathers, it seemed necessary that in a democracy all voters should assemble at a single location. The methodology of a statistical random sample of the People for polling or to select candidate initiatives developed over the period 1850-1930. Consequently, based on the available information, the Founding Fathers omitted any reference to democracy from the Constitution, but they did not explicitly forbid it.
Amendment I grants the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances: “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. However, the Supreme Court has explained: “nothing in the First Amendment or in this Court’s case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to … petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to individuals’ communications on public issues.” Moreover, though a signature “petition” may be used to qualify an Initiative, the word “petition” is used as a noun, whereas it has a different meaning as a verb in to “petition” for redress of grievances. Moreover, the People’s right to pass Initiatives into law is a very different issue. In other words, Amendment I says nothing about the People’s right to use Initiatives. (more…)
Differences in Nationwide Initiatives Plans by Senator Gravel’s National Initiative for Democracy and This Plan’s Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment
Conceptual Similarities in Nationwide Initiatives Plan: (more…)
Relevant Quotations by James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, James Wilson et al.:
- John Adams, 1776
“[A legislature]…should be an exact portrait, in miniature, of the people at large, as it should feel, reason and act like them”
Background History of Initiatives and Referendums in Ancient Times
The background history of initiatives and direct democracy voting for initiatives and referendums by the citizens on important issues started around two thousand five hundred years ago In Athens, the cradle of democracy. About 590 B.C. power was granted to all the propertied classes, thus establishing a limited democracy. About 500 B.C., democracy was extended to the freemen of Athens (women and slaves who made up more than half of the population, and others were excluded). At that time, the city of Athens’ population was approximately 100,000 (Polopolus) with possibly 300,000 including surrounding areas. Of these, about 100,000 were citizens and about 30,000 were males entitled to vote. The voters were called the Ecclesia or Ekklesia—i.e., the Electorate. A quorum of the Ecclesia consisted of 6,000 citizens. (more…)
Direct Initiative and an Indirect Initiative
In political science, the Direct Initiative and the Indirect Initiative (also known as popular or citizen’s initiative) provides a means by which… voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. It is a form of direct democracy. (more…)
Cost to Propose an Initiative in a Newspaper
The cost to propose an initiative in a national newspaper depends on the list prices range of text, which varies from about $4 to $8 per character. The Assembly will negotiate a bulk price for newspaper publication, which will probably average in the mid-range at about $6 per character. A Proposed Initiative of 300 words would cost about $10,000. However, this price is affordable to organizations, many individual citizens, and a group of citizens that could easily be assembled for a worthwhile Initiative. It is also sufficient to discourage frivolous Initiatives and to encourage brevity in worthwhile Initiatives. It appears to be the most cost effective method of publication. The Assembly has the authority to add a smaller (probably not national) newspaper with lower costs if this becomes desirable later; initially the Assembly should protect itself from a possible deluge of proposed Initiatives. (more…)
There are over 20 large Cities with Initiatives:
In the U.S. there are many large cities with Initiatives, along with counties and small cities. Twenty of the largest are listed below.
Initiatives Amendment Campaign Cost Estimates
Best Case Scenario
In the best initiatives amendment campaign cost estimates case, the States will perceive that the planned Amendment is to the benefit of both the People and the States, and will adopt and later ratify the Amendment. The costs in this case would probably be just a few million dollars.
Crowd-sourcing is Useful for Initiatives
Crowd-sourcing initiatives is useful. It has been around since human groups gathered around a fire and discussed problems collectively. The advent of the Internet made it unnecessary for everyone to be present at the same place. It is not clear how far crowd-sourcing will develop, but its progress is rapid and it is producing results. The word “crowdsourcing” was defined by Merriam-Webster in 2006’ “Crowd-sourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community …a general search for answers, solutions….” (Courtesy © Wikipedia)
The People Propose, Qualify, and Vote on Initiatives
The wisdom of initiatives solution provides safeguards against tampering, corruption, etc. Citizens often speak of their Constitution as an experiment – a description probably first used by George Washington. Nevertheless, since it has proven itself for over 200 years, this Plan should not expose the People to unnecessary risk. As the future is unpredictable, it is always wise to avoid any undue risks by providing safeguards. The famous dictum “Above all, do no harm” is entirely appropriate. Consequently, this Plan incorporates many safeguards whose purpose is to anticipate and avoid problems, and, if they occur, to have an easy solution. They will have a significant effect on the Plan’s success. (more…)
The President cannot veto initiatives despite the Constitution’s system of checks and balances requiring that legislation enacted by both Houses of Congress be approved or vetoed by the President. The equivalent check and balance for Direct Initiative legislation is that two time-separated Initiative Qualifying Assemblies (with many different Members) propose the Initiative and then the People approve or reject it. In both cases these are multi-step independent approvals that minimize error.
Introduction to Deliberative Assembly (IQA) Operating Design Features
This is an informal sketch of some aspects of the deliberative Initiatives Qualifying Assembly (IQA) operating design for the readers’ information and the IQA’s guidance. It is not intended as a definitive description or constraint. The IQA’s future operations will be an evolutionary process controlled by the IQA and cannot be accurately predicted.
Simple Random Sample
The initial IQA will be chosen as a simple random sample from all U.S. Citizens who are entitled to vote. This method does not involve any subjective decisions by sampling experts and is the most inclusive. It is the truest cross-section of the People and therefore the appropriate place to start. However, it will be an imposition on some of those selected; if this creates persistent serious problems, the IQA may be obliged to find ways to ameliorate and improve the situation.
All national assemblies deliberate to some degree and they each therefore can be called a deliberative assembly. What is special here is that randomly selected voters are generally not familiar with the process and need well-defined procedures to come up-to-speed quickly. These procedures will evolve with experience.Briefly, the starting procedure used in this plan is:
The IQA is similar in various ways to several existing forms of organization that can serve as a reference point, but non describe it precisely:
An IQA of 500 Citizens is Manageable
The initial size will be 500 Citizens. The key problem in setting the size of the planned IQA is to make it large enough to represent accurately the views of all the People, yet be small enough to be manageable. It is a problem confronting all national assemblies. Their practical experience is of paramount importance as they have evolved over centuries to these sizes after much trial and error.
Letting the Random Sample Members of IQA Pass Legislation Directly:
It can be argued (Callenbach and Phillips) that the Amendment could allow the IQA pass legislation directly, without going to vote by nationwide Electorate. Some advantages and major reservations are:
Different IQA Citizens Assembly and Typical Citizens Assembly Responsibility, Function, and Authority
Someone entering the IQA Citizens Initiatives Qualifying Assembly or a Typical Citizens Assembly would notice little difference — the assemblies would look and sound very similar. Below the surface, however, there are many profound differences of responsibility, function, authority, and purpose as shown in the following table. (more…)
Assembly Ensures Its Wisdom
There are good reasons to believe that the Initiatives Qualifying Assembly (IQA or Assembly) can be wise consistently, optimizing its “wisdom of crowds” through random selection diversity, independence, decentralization, then aggregation. (more…)
IQA Members Registered or Eligible Vote
Comprising IQA members registered or eligible vote, the key function of the IQA is to select and develop Initiatives on which the People would desire to vote if they had a comprehensive opportunity to think about the issues. There are two defensible ways to define who the “People” are for this purpose: (more…)
States with Initiatives Project IQA Cost Estimates
This table of iqa cost shows the estimated funding that could be needed for contingency initiative projects in States that have the initiative process but whose legislatures are reluctant to endorse the Amendment. (more…)
A Washington State Initiative can call for an Article V Constitutional Convention
A Washington State Initiative can call for an Article V Constitutional Convention of the States to amend the United States Constitution. References for other States or later interpretations of the issues have not yet emerged. Washington State permits a Direct Legislative State Initiative.
Attorney General Ken Eikenberry
An initiative, under Article II, § 1 of the Washington Constitution, may be used for the purpose of applying to the federal Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments to the United States Constitution in accordance with Article V thereof. (more…)
State Legislatures Should Support Amendment
State Legislatures should support Amendment in their own best interests, those of their People, the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), and to protect their State Rights, as shown in other sections the Initiatives Amendment and associated documents. They lead to the following conclusions:
- The U.S. Congress tolerates critical Problems that seriously harm the People of this State. Excessive influences by special interests are dysfunctional and the primary cause of the Problems. Moreover, Congress exacerbates two major violations of the Constitution.
- The only effective Solution is oversight by nationwide Citizens’ Initiatives. The People can trust only themselves to correct these Problems. Any lesser solution will ultimately fail because all appointed and elected officials are subject to great wealth’s Plutocratic corruption.
- A Constitutional Amendment is the only way to implement the Solution. There is no expectation that Congress can act against its members’ personal benefits and propose the Amendment by the first method. As planned by the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution, the People must place their faith in their State Legislatures to use the second method of proposing Amendments. The States are the People’s last bastion in defense of the Peoples’ liberty.
- If the State Legislatures fail and the People cannot fulfill their right and duty to alter their Government, the People’s only Constitutional remedy is the People’s right and duty to abolish their Government and institute new Government. The Constitution’s 2nd Amendment prepared them for this eventuality with the right of the People to keep and bear Arms. State Legislatures would be disastrously delinquent if they permit this to happen or even to procrastinate. Plutocracies, aristocracies, and dictators throughout recorded history all fear a People’s rebellion.
State Legislature support for Amendment is an obligation to protect its citizens’ rights. The U.S. Congress denies these rights by promoting the welfare of wealthy special interest groups that fund expensive congressional re-election campaigns rather than promoting the general welfare of the People. Congress will not solve this problem; but it is within the States’ Legislatures power to do so by supporting the Initiatives Amendment. The Pros and Cons of this support are presented below.
Coalition of Powerful Forces will Resist State Support of the Initiatives Amendment
At least the following sources of powers, constituencies, and factors of will resist state support of initiatives amendment and oppose a State’s support of the Initiatives Amendment. Though the constitutional and beneficial reasons for State support are powerful and compelling, there are also powerful forces that may prevent state legislators from endorsing the Initiatives Amendment.
2nd Method of Calling an Article V Convention
The 2nd Method calling Article V Convention has set many precedents by the nominal 400 or so State applications to Congress (FOAVC documents 766 applications from 49 States!). The right of a two-thirds majority of the States (i.e., 34 States) to call an Article V Convention by the 2nd Method is clearly defined in the Constitution. However, though Congress has defined procedures by which the States can call an Article V Convention by the 2nd Method, it has avoided passing legislation incorporating the procedures into law. (more…)
States Avoid Article V 2nd Method Pitfalls
How Can States Avoid Article V 2nd Method Pitfalls and use their States article v Rights? The States, on behalf of the people of the state, will process this Amendment. The primary concern must be to get it through as easily as possible rather than break new constitutional ground and risk the attendant pitfalls. The States should make the Amendment and its ratification process as defensible as possible.
Though it is a Congressional responsibility, Congress has been remiss in not clarifying the procedures for using the Second Method. There have been many attempts to establish the procedures for the Second Method by congressional legislation or constitutional amendment, but to no avail. Fortunately, it is possible to use the Second Method without Congressional procedures by avoiding the undefined or ambiguous areas.
There is a risk of a newly elected State legislature deciding to try to rescind a petition (despite prior commitments not to rescind) is always present. Preferably, there should be support from more than the minimum of 34 States. Moreover, the States should all try to complete submittals within a short period to minimize opportunity for rescissions.
CRS has published three lengthy papers for Members and Committees of Congress. They cover a wide range of issues, but nowhere do they say that Congress can prevent an Article V Convention of the States, that such a Convention is not feasible, or that is not the appropriate vehicle for this Solution. In fact, a Limited Convention Amendment is the preferred approach to this problem. However, there are some notable nuances and traps to avoid:
- Amending the U.S. Constitution: by Congress or by Constitutional Convention, Thomas M. (Durbin), Legislative Attorney, American Law Division, May 10, 1995 (download crs1995durbin).
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reviewed the Second Method procedures in 1995 Their report found five areas on which the Constitution is silent that might cause confusion and uncertainty, and a sixth area of procedural ambiguities. This Plan adds a seventh area to avoid excessive congressional delay and an eighth area to prevent Congress from undermining the application. In all cases the confusion, uncertainty and ambiguities should be avoidable by the States following the CRS report recommendations under the headings Procedural Issues and Federal Function Doctrine on the Constitutional Issues page of this web site. Following these recommendations will avoid Congressional fear of a “runaway” convention (download crs1995durbin).
- The Article V Convention for Proposing Constitutional Amendments: Historical Perspectives for Congress by Thomas H. Neale, Specialist in American National Government, October 22, 2012 (download crs2012neale).
- The Article V Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments: Contemporary Issues for Congress Thomas H. Neale Specialist in American National Government, April 11, 2014 (Download crs2014neale).
Congress Must Propose Ratification of an Amendment Approved by a Limited Convention
Alexander Hamilton explained the Article V Convention process in unmistakable terms: By the fifth article of the plan, the Congress will be obliged … to call a convention for proposing amendments…. The words of this article are peremptory. The Congress “shall call a convention.” Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body.” (Hamilton, Alexander. Federalist Papers, no. 85, 1788)
Each State Government Must Act Independently in Preparing Its Article V Limited Convention Amendment Application
“No State shall, without the Consent of Congress… enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State…” (U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3).Though it is doubtful that this really applies to an Article V Limited Convention Amendment Application, it is wise to avoid the unessential risk.
States Avoid Interstate Compact
If the States Avoid Interstate Compact of any form before the Constitutional Convention is called, it is the safest approach to avoid a states compact issue. The States can accomplish this by working with the People to coordinate a generic Initiatives Amendment that each State may adopt independently.
The following 26 States have State Referendums but No Initiatives:
State Citizen Initiative Review Commissions (CIRC)
State Citizen Initiative Review Commissions are a much scaled down version of the IQA with the authority to prevent an initiative from going on the ballot or to provide voter advice, but not independently to select an initiative for the ballot. The Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission (CIRC) was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2011 (House Bill 2634). Citizens’ Initiative Review is an innovative way of publicly evaluating ballot measures so voters have clear, useful, and trustworthy information at election time.
Can State IQA Replace Signature Petitions
Can a State IQA Replace Signature Petitions even though State problems are different from the U.S. government problems, State IQA (SIQA) could solve many problems with the signature-petition initiative process currently experienced by the States—for example: