Federalism

Professor Rob Natelson Discusses Article V on Colorado Public Television

Last month, Rob Natelson, member of the ALEC Board of Scholars and author of the ALEC Article V Handbook, appeared on “Devil’s Advocate,” a Colorado Public Television program. “Devil’s Advocate” host, Jon Caldara, gave voice to the frustration with Washington that so many Americans living outside the Beltway feel. Federal overreach continues to be universally unpopular in the states and Natelson concedes that the federal government has assumed a role that far exceeds that intended by the constitutional framers. He explained that constitutional amendments have commonly been used to reform government citing the Bill of Rights and the 22nd Amendment limiting the President to two terms. Natelson observed that the Article V provision empowering the states to propose constitutional amendments was created for a time like this when Congress is the source of the dysfunction and cannot be expected to reform itself.

Natelson also provided updates on some of the state Article V application initiatives including one to propose a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution which reached 29 of the 34 state applications necessary just last month. He noted that while this specific process has not been attempted under Article V, the nation has had numerous conventions of the states and stressed the “rules are pretty well established.” It is clear that the convention can be limited; that each state will receive only one vote and that the convention is only authorized to propose not impose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Natelson went a long way toward addressing the concerns of those who fear a “runaway convention.” Access the interview here—the first part of the interview deals mainly with the historical component, and the Article V portion begins five and a half minutes into the program.


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