States Getting Close to Establishing Rules for an Article V Convention

August 19, 2016 in News by RBN Staff




Heartland Policy Brief Evaluates Recent Efforts of the Assembly of State Legislatures

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – In June, the Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL) issued its “Rules for an Article V Convention for Proposing Amendment(s),” a recommended set of rules for a possible Convention of the States under Article V of the U.S. Constitution – an idea that is gaining momentum across America.

In a new Heartland Institute Policy Brief, constitutional scholar Rob Natelson gives ASL’s efforts two cheers, noting:

The ASL rules contain much that is useful and valuable, and a great deal of ASL’s time has been spent well. … Unfortunately, the ASL rules seem to have been drafted almost on a blank slate, with insufficient attention to the solid experience of prior conventions. Future rule drafters should, therefore, employ the ASL rules as a source of ideas rather than as a model or starting point for actual convention rules.

Natelson notes “conventions of the states” used to take place on average more than once every five years. But there have been no such conventions since 1922. During the twentieth century, lawmakers have lost their knowledge of interstate convention practices, so ASL is filling an important need.

To download a PDF version of Natelson’s brief, titled “A Brief Assessment of the Proposed Convention Rules Adopted by the Assembly of State Legislatures,” click here.

To schedule an interview with Natelson, please contact Heartland Institute Media Specialist Donny Kendal at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/877-9100.

Natelson evaluates ASL’s document along eight themes, including its length (more than ten times longer than the longest set of rules adopted by any previous convention), voting rules (what constitutes a quorum, reliance on supermajority votes), and mandated bipartisanship (whereas prior conventions have been nonpartisan).

The Heartland Institute’s Center for Constitutional Reform was created in 2015 to highlight ways individuals and organizations can help solve the growing threat to the nation’s liberty and prosperity posed by an out-of-control national government. The Heartland Institute supports efforts on behalf of an Article V convention but does not endorse a particular approach.

About the Author

Robert G. Natelson is senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at The Heartland Institute. He has the same title at the Montana Policy Institute in Bozeman, Montana and at the Independence Institute in Denver, Colorado, where he heads the Article V Information Center. He was a professor of law for 25 years, serving at three universities. He taught constitutional law, advanced constitutional law, First Amendment, and constitutional history, among other courses.

Natelson is well-known as a leading scholar of the American founding era. He is the author of The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant (3rd ed. Apis Books, 2014), co-author ofThe Origins of the Necessary and Proper Clause (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010), and author of numerous scholarly and popular articles. His research is regularly cited in the U.S. Supreme Court, both by parties and by the justices.

Natelson also has experience in the business, broadcasting, and political world. In 2000 he was runner-up among five candidates in the open party primary for governor of Montana.

The Heartland Institute is a 32-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.