Tennessee Becomes 5th State to Pass Resolution Calling For Article V Convention

By Barbara Hollingsworth | February 10, 2016 | 2:02 PM EST
Tennessee state capitol building in Nashville. (Photo: AP/WKRN)

(CNSNews.com) – Tennessee has become the fifth state in the nation – and the first in 2016 - to pass a resolution calling for an Article V Convention of the States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

On February 4, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted 59-31 to approve Senate Joint Resolution 0067 calling for an Article V convention that would be “limited to proposing amendments to the United States Constitution that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”  

The Tennessee Senate passed the same resolution last April on a 23-5 vote.

Although the resolution went into effect as soon as it passed the House, it was ceremonially signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday.

Prior to the House vote, state Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) reminded her colleagues why an Article V Convention is needed:

“We all know that right now, we are in a position that the federal government is not delegating authority, they are not limiting authority, and our federal budget is ballooning, [bureaucrats in] the EPA are adding rules constantly, mandates that we have to follow that are costing our state millions, and it’s time for us to take advantage of this constitutional remedy for a federal government that is out of control,” Butt said.

“Congratulations to Tennessee on becoming the first state to pass in 2016 to reclaim state power,” said Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Convention of States Project. “An Article V Convention is the ultimate exercise of this power.”

Besides Tennessee, Alabama, Alaska, Florida and Georgia have formally adopted Article V resolutions.

They have also been introduced in 33 other state legislatures this year – including the presidential battleground state of South Carolina.

 Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed an Article V Convention in his “Texas Plan”, stating that “each branch of [the federal] government has strayed from its intended role.”

Conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin, who popularized the idea of an Article V Convention in his best-selling book, The Liberty Amendments, has called a state-convened constitutional convention an exercise in “quintessential federalism”.

Republicans currently control 68 of the 98 state legislative chambers in the U.S., the most legislative seats the GOP has held since 1920, according to Real Clear Politics. Advocates for an Article V Convention say they are hopeful that many of these states will pass Article V resolutions during their 2016 legislative sessions.

Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, two-thirds of the 50 state legislatures (34) must adopt similar resolutions before a constitutional convention to draft amendments to the U.S. Constitution can be called. Three-fourths of the states (38) are then required to ratify any amendments passed by the convention.

Congress has no role in a Convention of the States other than to select the time and venue, but the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives maintains a public list of states that have passed resolutions in at least one legislative chamber.

In a 2013 article published in the Harvard Law and Public Policy Review, Robert Natelson, senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at the Independence Institute and an expert on Article V, wrote that “if recent history tells us anything, it is that we are not going to restore federalism…merely by choosing the right Presidents, members of Congress, or Supreme Court Justices. The state legislatures will have to do the job.”

Related: Convention of States Activists Praise Gov. Abbott’s ‘Texas Plan’

Related: Coburn: Convention of States Needed Because Washington Will Never Fix Itself