In the previous post, I noted that states have applied to Congress for an Article V amendment convention. How many states have applied? One would assume that fewer than 2/3 of the states have applied since no convention has been called.
One would be wrong! There have been over 400 applications for an amendment convention. 49 out of 50 states have sent applications to Congress. By some counts, Congress was duty-bound to call a convention back in 1911.
Even if one holds that applications must be on the same subject, 39 states have submitted applications to repeal the 16th amendment. You know, the one that allows an income tax. I wonder why Congress never called that one?
So why has this gone on so long? One reason is that Congress never kept track of how many applications have been submitted. The applications are not stored anywhere. Since the first Congress, all that has been done is to “memorialize” the application in the Congressional Record. Nothing is entered in the National Archives. To get an accurate count, someone would have to go through the Congressional Records and make a list.
Well, someone actually has done this! The “Friends Of The Article 5 Convention” website has extensive lists of all the applications they can find. (The numbers of beginning of this post come from that website.) Their research shows that Congress is currently duty-bound to call a convention. Even allowing for recessions, which may not be allowed since they are not mentioned in Article V (but may still be a legitimate exercise of state power under the 10th Amendment), there are still 38 states with applications outstanding. This is well above the two thirds necessary to call a convention.
So why hasn’t Congress called a convention to propose amendments? Well, the reason seems obvious to me: if the convention is called, there’s an excellent chance that the amendments coming out for ratification would greatly restrict the powers of the Federal government, and return power to the states. As I mentioned in the previous post, why would Congress ever do something that would restrict or take away power?
Okay, fair enough, you say. So why haven’t the other branches of the states done anything to force the hand of Congress? Another good question, and the topic for the next post!