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.
Sign up for our free newsletter
Subscribe to the NPQ newsletter to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
Assume for the moment that the doors to a constitutional convention open within our lifetime. We have two questions for NPQ Newswire readers:
- What do you—as a nonprofit director, employee, or donor—think will end up on the agenda of a constitutional convention?
- 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