What’s on Your Constitutional Convention Agenda?

Print Share on LinkedIn More

January 20, 2012; Athens Banner-Herald | If the Georgia legislature passes a resolution introduced by two Republican state legislators, it would be the 19th state to call for a constitutional convention with the aim of getting the federal government to pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. It takes the approval of 34 state legislatures to convene a constitutional convention. In the 1960s, an effort led by Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois got the approval of 33 states. In the early 1980s, 32 passed resolutions before the effort—also driven by the desire for a balanced budget amendment—lost steam.

We’re not constitutional law professors here, but we suspect that the agenda at a constitutional convention would be broad, with a potential rewriting of the constitution as a possibility. That was what happened when the 1787 Constitutional Convention met to tinker with some problems in the Articles of Confederation.

There are a number of major political thinkers who have expressed support for a constitutional convention, though not all of them have focused on the idea of a balanced budget amendment. Lawrence Lessig, who we have written about here, is one of those, and we suspect his support is derived from a desire to fix the nation’s corrupted system of campaign finance. 

Assume for the moment that the doors to a constitutional convention open within our lifetime. We have two questions for NPQ Newswire readers:

  1. What do you—as a nonprofit director, employee, or donor—think will end up on the agenda of a constitutional convention?
  2. And what do you, as a nonprofit leader, think should be on the agenda for fixing the Constitution?

Georgia and 18 other states need your answers. —Rick Cohen

  • tom donohue

    I have just published a novel called Capitol Bypass that speaks to those 20 words in Article 5. It is a story of a plausible path to the convention. Three amendments Term Limits, Balanced Budget and Campaign Finance Reform are the main attraction.


  • J.H. Snider

    The most likely next constitutional convention in the United States is not at a Federal level but in Maryland, where a majority of the voters supporting convening a state con-con on the Nov. 2, 2010 ballot.

    On January 19, 2012, I wrote about this in an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun. For details and updates, see http://www.MarylandConCon.org My own favorite issue for a Maryland con-con, partly because it is the hot button democratic reform issue in Maryland right now, is redistricting reform.

    –J.H. Snider, President