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Op-Ed: A Convention of the States may be our best chance to reign in the federal government


In recent months, candidates for elected office across Oklahoma have promised to fight against our ever-expanding federal government and its growing intrusion into our lives.  Invoking the language of our founders, they lament the loss of state sovereignty but rarely recommend workable solutions to the problem. Our nation’s founders always feared an oppressive federal power and taught us that it’s our duty to free ourselves from oppression and reestablish our union.  

When Washington grows too powerful, we can’t expect it to fix itself.  However, during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the ensuing state ratification conventions, our founders made it clear that future patriots needed a “Get out of Tyranny Free” card.  They gave the states that power under Article V of the Constitution, which enables the states to propose constitutional amendments.  

Under Article V, if 34 state legislatures approve measures calling for a convention, they may come together to propose constitutional amendments and if ratified by 38 states they can reclaim the power they have ceded.  There are more than 20 states that have current applications pending requesting an Article V Convention to propose a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.  As the movement to challenge the federal government through such a convention gains momentum, I expect many more will follow suit. 

I’ve been a passionate advocate for an Article V Convention for many years, but since being elected to the state Senate, I now believe it’s the only solution big enough to restore our liberty.  In recent years, I’ve been encouraged to see many prominent conservatives embrace this movement including our own Sen. Tom Coburn and leading conservatives like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and David Barton.

Recently, I had the honor of being named a delegate to the Assembly of State Legislatures, which met at the Indiana State Capitol.  At this historic event, representatives from 33 states met for two days to discuss how an Article V Convention of the States could be convened.  The Assembly is a dedicated group of legislators from around the country who are committed to establishing the rules and procedures that might guide a future Article V Convention. These procedures would have been very well known during our founding era, when there were more than 600 similar conventions and assemblies, but today the Assembly believes it would be valuable to revisit these rules, procedures and precedents so as to better guide a Convention of the States.

Through patience and perseverance, I believe we avoid destroying ourselves from within as Lincoln feared, and we can resist the oppression of an expanding federal government as Thomas Jefferson instructed in our original founding document, the Declaration of Independence.  As our founders knew, an Article V Convention gives us a peaceful, constitutional solution for reigning in the power of the federal government.  It may be the best chance we have to restore the federalist vision our founders conceived when they envisioned this union of states.