CommunityMy FDL

Convention to Propose Constitutional Amendments Considered by Houses of Congress

On April 22nd, 2013 our request for official tabulation and verification of Article V Constitutional Convention applications from State legislatures arrived in the Clerk of US House of Representatives’ office.

The request was prescribed by Tom Wickham the US House Parliamentarian in early April 2013. There was a lack of process to submit this request. Furthermore, there is no official number or way to determine which States have applied and which have not applied for an Article V Constitutional Convention according to federal offices. (record of known applications)

The response from the Clerks office, legal advisor Kirk Boyle admitted that Congress never counted any of the more than 500 applications of State legislatures:

The Clerk has not been assigned the responsibility to tabulate State applications for an Article V convention by statute or the rules or precedents of the House. Accordingly, the Office of the Clerk is unable to fulfill your request. However, I would be pleased to forward your correspondence to your Member of Congress or to the Committee on the Judiciary for further consideration if that would be of assistance to you. Under the rules of the House, the Committee on the Judiciary has jurisdiction over constitutional amendments and has a subcommittee dedicated to the Constitution.

The Clerk of House, Karen Haas sent the request to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner’s office. On October 24th, 2013, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, presented it to the Judiciary Committee for review. The action was entered in the Congressional Record here on Page 3:

Under clause 3 of rule XII,
55. The SPEAKER presented a petition of Dan Marks, Hilo, HI, relative to a letter regarding methods for proposing amendments; which was referred to the committee on the Judiciary.

I sent a similar letter to Elizabeth MacDonough the Senate Parliamentarian in July of 2013. She entered the request in the Congressional Record on August 1st, 2013 and sent the request on to the Judiciary Committee where is it waiting to be scheduled on the calendar.
That entry reads:

[Page: S6204]
POM-120. A communication from citizens of the State of Hawaii petitioning for verification and tabulation of State applications for an Article V Convention; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

At this point we need to make sure the American people and State authorities are aware of this action. That awareness has the power to keep them honest and make sure this is dealt with transparency and in an appropriate manner.

Conservative think tanks currently work to hold a convention restricted to their agenda, keep the people out of the process, and refuse to allow an election of delegates. Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte needs to understand that is not the case. In one of Thomas Jefferson’s letters in 1816 he wrote:

This corporeal globe, and everything upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants, during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction; and this declaration can only be made by their majority. That majority, then, has a right to depute representatives to a convention, and to make the Constitution what they think will be the best for themselves.

I beg the assistance of the fourth estate and social media to ensure that our government does not avoid its peremptory duty to acknowledge the actions of State legislatures or change the rules while the game is being played. The only way to ensure that our democratic process stays unadulterated is to focus the spotlight on the actions of Congress before they are made.

Additional Article V Information

The Constitution also authorizes a national convention, when two-thirds of the states petition Congress for such a convention, to propose amendments, which would also have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.
What is an Article V Convention?
The only direct way citizens can propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution reads:

Election Law
“(2) the term “election” means—
(E) the election of delegates to a constitutional convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States or of any State; and”


With well over a century of experience in proposing an Article V Convention, the states have arrived at certain precedents for the consideration of these applications.

The Article V Convention for Proposing
Constitutional Amendments: Historical
Perspectives for Congress
Thomas H. Neale
Specialist in American National Government
Congressional Research Service Report R42592
October 22, 2012


The entire collection of recorded applications

Previous post

Saturday Water Cooler: Happy Birthday W. C. Handy, Hubert Sumlin, Chi Coltrane, and Diana Krall

Next post

#AskJPM tweets - as read by Stacey Keach

Daniel Marks

Daniel Marks