This background memo was originally published in March 2017 and was updated in 2023.

A well-funded, highly coordinated national effort is underway to call a constitutional convention, under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, for the first time in history. The result of such a convention could be a complete overhaul of the Constitution and supporters of the convention are dangerously close to succeeding. With special interest groups gaining more momentum, conservative advocates are just six states short of reaching the constitutionally required 34-state goal.

The unknowns surrounding a constitutional convention pose an unacceptable risk, particularly in the current polarized political climate. Given how close calling a new convention is, it’s time to spotlight that risk and sound an alarm for the preservation of our Constitution.

Too few Americans are even aware that a constitutional convention can be called, let alone that there would be no checks on its scope and further that the process to call one is well underway and being underwritten by some of the nation’s richest individuals.

Calls for a convention are coming from right and left, with more money, a stronger campaign structure, and national coordination on the right. A number of major conservative organizations and donors, including Mercer family and Koch-funded groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have renewed and intensified efforts to thrust this issue into the spotlight after years of inactivity.

This memo that outlines the different campaigns calling for an Article V convention and why it is just a dangerous idea. These calls for a constitutional convention represent the most serious threat to our democracy flying almost completely under the radar.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution offers two ways to add amendments to our nation’s governing document in Article V. The process that has always used for all 27 amendments added to the Constitution since 1789 is for an amendment to pass with a two-thirds vote in each chamber of Congress and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

The other, untested way laid out in Article V is for two-thirds of state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention, also known as an “Article V convention,” to add amendments to the Constitution once they are ratified by three-fourths of the states. Throughout the 230-year history of the U.S. Constitution, an Article V convention has never been called by Congress.

The Constitution offers no guidelines or rules on how a convention would work or if a convention can be limited to considering one amendment or subject. Since the Constitution offers no guidance on how applications for a convention should be counted, scholars have offered various legal opinions on the counting of convention applications, but it is generally agreed that all applications from two-thirds of the state legislatures (34 states) should be on the same issue for a convention to be called.

The text of Article V of the U.S. Constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.


Current Article V Convention Campaigns

The Balanced Budget Amendment Effort

While there are several ongoing pro-convention campaigns, the effort to add a federal balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the Constitution has progressed furthest. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, dozens of state legislatures passed resolutions or “calls” for an Article V convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. Some BBA proponents claim that by 1989, 32 states had called for a convention for a balanced budget amendment. Concerns about a potential runaway convention, plus an intensified drive to push a BBA through Congress, led over a dozen states to rescind their convention calls between 1989 and 2010. However, conservative interest groups have revived the convention plan, persuading more than a dozen state legislatures to pass Article V convention calls since 2011.

With the help and endorsement of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate lobbying group masquerading as a charity, the Article V BBA campaign has gained steam in the last decade. Most convention proponents now agree that 28 states have “live” calls for a BBA convention (i.e., where the state has not passed a rescission to nullify an earlier call); that means they are just six states shy of the constitutionally required 34 applications.

The Article V BBA campaign is primarily targeting three GOP-controlled state legislatures that do not have an Article V BBA application on the books: Kentucky, Idaho, and Montana. Those continue to be the main targets each legislative session. In March 2019, former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker became the National Honorary Chair of the Center for State-led National Debt Solutions, one of the main groups advocating for the BBA convention applications in the states. Walker, ALEC, and other BBA advocates have also announced a plan to force a convention by adding applications from the states have BBA applications together with six states with plenary convention applications.

Due to the threat of an Article V convention, several state legislatures have rescinded their Article V BBA convention applications, including Delaware (2016), New Mexico (2017), Maryland (2017), Nevada (2017), and Colorado (2021). Had those five states not rescinded their applications, BBA convention proponents would be at 33 states, just one away from reaching the 34-state goal.


The Convention of States Effort

Another conservative effort to call a new constitutional convention, known as the “Convention of States,” is also underway. This proposal calls for a convention for the broad purposes of limiting the powers of the federal government, imposing fiscal restraints on federal spending, and applying term limits for Members of Congress. The vague language in the Convention of States proposal perfectly illustrates the threat of a runaway convention.

The Convention of States effort has major resources behind it, including at least $500,000 from the Mercer family (known for their support of President Trump and Republican candidates) and numerous large contributions from the Koch-connected Donors Trust. The well-funded Convention of States campaign is led by Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler and former U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-OK, and Jim DeMint, R-SC; DeMint also is a former Heritage Foundation president.  The campaign has garnered major endorsements from other major conservative media personalities, elected officials, and special interest groups, including Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Senator Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Pete Hegseth, Allen West, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and others.

In September 2016, the Convention of States held a mock convention to come up with proposed amendments to the Constitution. The results show how they plan to use a convention to implement an extreme agenda into the Constitution and how a convention cannot be limited. The changes they proposed (found here) would drastically alter the federal government and put civil rights and needed programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, at risk.

In just the last seven years, the Convention of States resolution has passed in 19 states: Georgia, Alaska, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arizona, North Dakota, Texas, MissouriArkansas, Utah, Mississippi West Virginia, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.


Wolf PAC Effort

The is also an effort underway to call an Article V constitutional convention for an amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Leading this effort is a group called Wolf PAC, founded by left-wing political commentator Cenk Uygur. Since 2014, Wolf PAC’s resolution has passed in five states, but has been rescinded in two, leaving them with just three states: VermontCalifornia, and Rhode Island.

Common Cause fully supports overturning Citizens United and other cases that have bolstered the undue influence of money in politics. We support a constitutional amendment as one path – but oppose an Article V convention as the mechanism, for the reasons that are discussed later in this memo.  An amendment overturning Citizens United is by no means the only solution to reform our democracy so that people are put first; it must be part of a larger context of solutions including public financing of elections, strong disclosure of political spending, election administration modernization, impartial redistricting reform, and other pro-democracy solutions.


U.S. Term Limits

U.S. Term Limits, a group founded and funded by conservative mega-donor Howard Rich, is also leading a campaign for an Article V convention to propose a constitutional amendment to term limit members of Congress. Since 2016, six states have passed Article V convention applications on term limits: Florida, Alabama, Missouri, West Virginia, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

Why the Article V Convention Process is a Threat

As outlined in Common Cause’s 2021 report, Constitutional Chaos The Shadow Campaigns Aiming to Unravel Our Freedom, a constitutional convention is open to many problems, including:

  • THREAT OF A RUNAWAY CONVENTION: There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent a constitutional convention from being expanded in scope to issues not raised in convention calls passed by the state legislatures, and therefore could lead to a runaway convention.
  • INFLUENCE OF SPECIAL INTERESTS: An Article V convention would open the Constitution to revisions at a time of extreme gerrymandering and polarization amid unlimited political spending. It could allow special interests and the wealthiest to re-write the rules governing our system of government.
  • LACK OF CONVENTION RULES: There are no rules governing constitutional conventions. A convention would be an unpredictable Pandora’s Box; the last one, in 1787, resulted in a brand-new Constitution. One group advocating for a “Convention of States” openly discusses the possibility of using the process to undo hard-won civil rights and civil liberties advances and undermine basic rights extended throughout history as our nation strove to deliver on the promise of a democracy that works for everyone.
  • THREAT OF LEGAL DISPUTES: No judicial, legislative, or executive body would have clear authority to settle disputes about a convention, opening the process to chaos and protracted legal battles that would threaten the functioning of our democracy and economy.
  • APPLICATION PROCESS UNCERTAINTY: There is no clear process on how Congress or any other governmental body would count and add up Article V applications, or if Congress and the states could restrain the convention’s mandate based on those applications.
  • POSSIBILITY OF UNEQUAL REPRESENTATION: It is unclear how states would choose delegates to a convention, how states and citizens would be represented in a convention, and who would ultimately get to vote on items raised in a convention.

Simply put, an Article V constitutional convention is a dangerous and uncontrollable process that would put Americans’ constitutional rights up for grabs.

At a time when extreme gerrymandering has created unprecedented polarization and big money buys access and influence for a few very wealthy special interests, a new constitutional convention would lead to chaos; the interests of everyday Americans would be shut out of the ultimate closed-door meeting. There would be no way to limit the scope of a constitutional convention and no way to guarantee that our civil liberties and constitutional process would be protected.

The constitutional rights and civil liberties that could be impacted in an Article V convention include the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, privacy rights, the guarantee of equal protection under law, the right to vote, immigration issues, and the right to counsel and a jury trial.


Bipartisan Group of Legislators & Organizations Oppose an Article V Convention

Due to the threat of a runaway convention and the lack of rules to protect Americans’ constitutional rights, more than 240 public interest, civil rights, government reform, labor, environmental, immigration, and constitutional rights organizations released a statement in April 2017 opposing calls for an Article V constitutional convention. Organizational signers of the letter include Common Cause, the Center on Budget and Policy PrioritiesDemocracy21, the AFL-CIOAFSCMEAmericans for Democratic Action, the League of Women Voters of the United StatesDream Defenders, the Sierra Club, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza Action Fund, the National Education Association (NEA), SEIU, the Campaign Legal CenterGreenpeacePeople For the American WayDaily Kos, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Brennan Center for Justice.

As stated in the letter, the organizations “strongly urge state legislatures to oppose efforts to pass a resolution to call for a constitutional convention” and “urge state legislatures to rescind any application for an Article V constitutional convention in order to protect all Americans’ constitutional rights and privileges from being put at risk and up for grabs.”

Although pro-convention campaigns are being proposed on the right and left, Democratic and Republican legislators alike have opposed calls for a new convention due to the threat it poses to Americans’ civil rights and liberties. During the 2023 legislative sessions, Republican-controlled legislative chambers in Idaho, South Dakota, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming voted against calls for an Article V convention proposed by conservative groups. Likewise, Democratic controlled legislatures in Delaware, New Mexico, Maryland, Nevada, and Colorado have recently rescinded their applications for an Article V convention for a balanced budget amendment in recent years. In the last five years, numerous legislative committees and chambers controlled by both parties rejected Article V convention applications in New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, Maryland, Hawaii, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Kansas, Virginia, and New Hampshire.


Legal Scholars Warn of the Dangers of an Article V Convention

See a full list of quotes and writings from legal scholars here.

“[T]here is no way to effectively limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda.  Congress might try to limit the convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey.” – Warren Burger, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1969-1986)

“I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it?” – Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1986-2016)

“There is no enforceable mechanism to prevent a convention from reporting out wholesale changes to our Constitution and Bill of Rights.” – Arthur Goldberg, Associate Justice of the US. Supreme Court (1962-1965)

“Questions about such a convention have been debated for years by legal scholars and political commentators, without resolution. Who would serve as delegates? What authority would they be given? Who would establish the procedures under which the convention would be governed? What limits would prevent a “runaway” convention from proposing radical changes affecting basic liberties?…With these thorny issues unsettled, it should come as no surprise that warning flags are being raised about a constitutional convention.” – Archibald Cox, Solicitor General of the United States (1961-1965) and special prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice (1973)

“Any new constitutional convention must have the authority to study, debate, and submit to the states for ratification whatever amendments it considers appropriate…If the legislatures of thirty-four states request Congress to call a general constitutional convention, Congress has a constitutional duty to summon such a convention. If those thirty -four states recommend in their applications that the convention consider only a particular subject, Congress still must call a convention and leave to the convention the ultimate determination of the agenda and the nature of the amendments it may choose to propose.” –  Walter E. Dellinger, Solicitor General of the United States (1996-1997) and the Douglas B. Maggs Professor Emeritus of Law at Duke University

“First of all, we have developed orderly procedures over the past couple of centuries for resolving [some of the many] ambiguities [in the Constitution], but no comparable procedures for resolving [questions surrounding a convention]. Second, difficult interpretive questions about the Bill of Rights or the scope of the taxing power or the commerce power tend to arise one at a time, while questions surrounding the convention process would more or less need to be resolved all at once. And third, the stakes in this case in this instance are vastly greater, because what you’re doing is putting the whole Constitution up for grabs.” –Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School

“The bigger threat is that a constitutional convention, once unleashed on the nation, would be free to rewrite or scrap any parts of the U.S. Constitution. Do we really want to open up our nation’s core defining values to debate at a time when a serious candidate for the White House brags about his enthusiasm for torture and the surveillance state, wants to “open up” reporters to lawsuits, scoffs at the separation of powers and holds ideas about freedom of religion that are selective at best?” – David Super, professor of law at Georgetown University

“Note what [Article V] does not say. It says not a word expressly authorizing the states, Congress, or some combination of the two to confine the subject matter of a convention. It says not a word about whether Congress, in calculating whether the requisite 34 states have called for a convention, must (or must not) aggregate calls for a convention on, say, a balanced budget, with differently worded calls arising from related or perhaps even unrelated topics. It says not a word prescribing that the make-up of a convention, as many conservatives imagine, will be one-state-one-vote (as Alaska and Wyoming might hope) or whether states with larger populations should be given larger delegations (as California and New York would surely argue).”- Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies

“Danger lies ahead. Setting aside the long odds, if California and 33 more states invoke Article V, there’s a risk that we’d end up with a “runaway” convention, during which delegates would propose amendments on issues including abortion, gun rights and immigration.” – Rick Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine

“Holding a Constitutional convention when the U.S. is embroiled in extremely toxic, uninformed and polarized politics is a really, really bad idea.” – Shelia Kennedy, professor of law and policy at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

“But no rule or law limits the scope of a state-called constitutional convention. Without established legal procedures, the entire document would be laid bare for wholesale revision. Article V itself sheds no light on the most basic procedures for such a convention. How many delegates does each state get at the convention? Is it one state, one vote, or do states with larger populations, like California, get a larger share of the votes? The Supreme Court has made at least one thing clear — it will not intervene in the process or the result of a constitutional convention. The game has neither rules nor referees.” – McKay Cunningham, professor of law at Concordia University

“The result will be a disaster. I hate to think of the worst-case scenario. At best, the fight over every step along the way would consume our country’s political oxygen for years.” – David Marcus, professor of law at the University of Arizona

“At present, there are no rules regarding who can participate, give money, lobby or have a voice in a constitutional convention. There are no rules about conflicts of interest, disclosure of who is giving or expending money. No rules exist that address political action committees, corporate or labor union involvement or how any other groups can or should participate. Not only might legitimate voices of the people be silenced by convention rules, but special interests may be given privilege to speak and affect the deliberations…there are no rules limiting what can be debated at a constitutional convention. Given the potential domination by special interests, who knows the result?” – David Schultz, political science and election law professor at Hamline University

“An Article V convention might propose an amendment to restore or expand the liberties of the American people, but it also could propose an amendment that diminishes the liberties of the American people, or of some of the people. “ – John Malcolm, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

“But nothing in the Constitution limits such a convention to the issue or issues for which it was called. In other words, anything and everything could be on the table, including fundamental constitutional rights. Nor are there any guarantees about who would participate or under what rules. Indeed, for these reasons, no constitutional convention has been called since the first in 1787.” – Helen Norton, professor and Ira C. Rothgerber, Jr. Chair in Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado

“The lack of clear rules of the road, either in the text of the Constitution itself or in historical or legal precedent, makes the selection of the convention mechanism a choice whose risks dramatically outweigh any potential benefits.” – Richard Boldt, professor of law at the University of Maryland

“We live in deeply partisan times. There are no certainties about how a constitutional convention would play out, but the most likely outcome is that it would deepen our partisan divisions. Because there are no clear constitutional rules defining a convention’s procedures, a convention’s “losers” may deem illegitimate any resulting changes. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the process itself would likely worsen our already vicious national politics.” – Eric Berger, associate dean professor of law at the University of Nebraska College of Law

“There are no such guarantees. This is uncharted territory…We should not now abandon the very document that has held us together as a nation for over two and one quarter centuries. Rewriting the Constitution is a dangerous errand that would not only unravel the legal ties that have kept us together for so long but would also undermine our sense of national identity and the way that view ourselves as a people.” – William Marshall, professor of law at University of North Carolina

“Terrible idea…Today’s politicians don’t have the timeless brilliance of our framers. If we were to rewrite our constitution today, we wouldn’t get a particularly good one.” – Adam Winkler, professor of constitutional law and history at the University of California, Los Angeles

“I believe it’s a time for constitutional sobriety. It’s a time to keep our powder dry and not to move on an uncharted course. We are not the founding fathers. This would be disastrous.” – Toni Massaro, constitutional law professor at the University of Arizona

“Having taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, and having studied constitutions from around the globe, I have difficulty imagining anything worse.” – Bill Rich, professor of law at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas

“There are no constitutional limits on what the convention could do, no matter what the states say going into it.” – David Schwartz, professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School

“The Constitution allows for the calling of conventions on a petition of enough states, but not limited conventions of enough states. If the delegates decide they don’t want to be bound by the (state) resolution, they are right that they can’t be bound.” – Richard H. Fallon Jr., constitutional law professor at Harvard University

“Once you open the door to a constitutional convention, there are no sure guidelines left. This is the constitutional equivalent of opening a can of worms.” – Miguel Schor, constitutional law professor at Drake University School of Law

“Thus, neither the states nor Congress may limit the convention to specific subjects. While the goal to propose a balanced budget amendment may provide guidance to the convention, it would not have the force of law…Put simply, the rewards of any constitutional change is not worth the risks of a convention. ” – Sam Marcosson, professor of law at the University of Louisville

“Even more frightening is that the entire Constitution will be in play during a convention. The First Amendment could disappear, so could gun rights. There is no guarantee that any of our current constitutionally protected rights would be included in a new constitution. The only guarantee is that all of those rights would be imperiled.” – Mark Rush, the Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law at Washington and Lee University in Lexington

“Most significantly, we advise the Legislature that a federal constitutional convention called with this resolution could potentially open up each and every provision of the United States Constitution to amendment or repeal. In other words, a federal constitutional convention could propose amendments to eliminate the protections of free speech; the protections against racial discrimination; the protections of freedom of religion; or any of the other myriad provisions that presently provide the backbone of American law.” – March 2018 legislative testimony of Russell Suzuki, Acting Attorney General, and Deirdre Marie-Iha, Deputy Attorney General, of the state of Hawaii

“Whatever one thinks about these proposed amendments, trying to pass them through an Article V convention is a risky business. The Constitution does not specify how the delegates for such a convention would be chosen, how many delegates each state would have, what rules would apply at the convention or whether there would be any limits on what amendments the convention could consider. A convention that was called to address a specific issue, such as budget deficits, might propose changes to freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms, the Electoral College or anything else in the Constitution. There is no rule or precedent saying what the proper scope of the convention’s work would be.” – Allen Rostron, associate dean for students, the William R. Jacques Constitutional Law Scholar, and a professor at the University of Missouri

“Whether I like or dislike the specific proposal is not the point — the point is that a constitutional convention is a risky and potentially dangerous way to propose amendments.” – Hugh Spitzer, professor of law at the University of Washington School of Law

“A Constitutional Convention could be dangerous and destructive to our country, and citizens should approach the idea with the same wariness the founders did…Do we really want to tinker with this nation’s fundamental rights – especially at a time when our country is deeply divided politically? Let’s not risk opening what could be a Pandora’s box of chaos and an existential crisis for the country.” – Dewey M. Clayton, professor of political science at the University of Louisville

“If a national constitutional convention were held, all of our rights under the current Constitution, and all of the government’s reciprocal obligations, would be up for grabs. Nothing in the Constitution constrains the process that would apply if a convention is actually called. Anything could go, including the process for ratification itself, and there would be no Constitution cop on the block to ensure that things don’t go seriously haywire.” – Kim Wehle, professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and a former assistant U.S. attorney and associate independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation

“Amendment by convention has never been attempted and little is certain about the powers and prerogatives of such a convention. The basic problem is that there appears to be no effective way to limit the convention’s scope once it is called.” – Stephen H. Sach, Attorney General of Maryland (1979-1987)

“It is unclear, for instance, what the agenda of the convention that the states would call would be. Some people even think that the scope of the convention would be unlimited, and that makes a lot of very rational people wary of making the whole Constitution up for grabs.” – John O. McGinnis, the George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

“The dangers stem largely from the fact that it is an uncharted course…The alternative route in Article V is one that has never been taken. This route is obviously legitimate, but it is an unknown…Moreover, the convention would have a plausible case for taking an even broader view of its agenda. Convention delegates could claim that they represent the people who elected them, and that they are entitled to deal with any constitutional issue of major concern to their constituency. The states, quite unthinkingly and without consideration of the implications, have started a process that may eventually produce a shock to them and to the country. It is a process of undeliberate constitution making that would make James Madison turn over in his grave.” – Gerald Gunther, constitutional law scholar and professor of law at Stanford Law School

“In these contentious times, democratic institutions, norms, and views are under unprecedented stress. When debating whether to adopt a resolution to apply to Congress to call for an Article V Convention, Maryland legislators should keep in mind the possibility that the call could add to a widespread perception of national disarray and push the American Republic closer to a breaking point. The perils of an Article V Convention running amok and altering the core framework of the American Republic are high. This method of reform should therefore be used only as a last resort.” – Miguel González-Marcos, professor of law at the University of Maryland

“There is a risk of a runaway convention.” – Michael Gerhardt, constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law

“So the fear among some people is that if we were to have such a constitutional convention that the whole Constitution would be up in the air again. It might be possible that the whole thing would be undermined, and no one would know going in what might replace it.” – Daniel Ortiz, constitutional law professor at the University of Virginia

“First, the national convention method may not result in any amendment, because it generates many uncertainties that can defeat the passage of an amendment. These uncertainties include what the legal rules are that govern the amendment process, what actions the other states will take, what role the Congress will play, and what amendment the convention will propose. Second, this method may result in a different amendment than the one that the state legislature desired through a runaway convention. Even if the state legislature specifically provided that the convention should only address a particular amendment, it is quite possible that the convention could propose an entirely different amendment and that amendment would then be ratified by the states.” – Michael B. Rappaport, professor of law at the University of San Diego

“Given that Article V contains no safeguards to restrain delegates, or instructions for choosing delegates, no part of the Constitution would be off limits. While some advocating for a convention may claim to care only about one issue, invoking Article V in this way would put the most basic parts of our democracy at risk. Extremists would have free rein to everything from our systems of checks and balances, to our most cherished rights, such as freedom of speech and voting for our leaders.” – Wilfred Codrington, fellow and counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice

“I want to raise the alarm on a dangerous and little-known campaign organized by a small, powerful group of wealthy special interests who seek to call an Article V convention to rewrite this foundational document. Such a convention poses a grave danger to the rights and freedoms we all hold dear, but it also puts at grave risk the body of national environmental laws and the expert institutions that implement them…There are no rules outlined in the Constitution for how the process of a convention would unfold. We must consider the agenda of those who are lobbying so hard for this convention and how they would seek to gain influence.” – Patrick Parenteau, professor of law at Vermont Law School

“In this politically fractured time, some state legislatures have called for a convention to rewrite the U.S. Constitution. Article V of the Constitution provides for such a process, but a convention has never before been convened and, and if it occurred, would have no set rules, no predictable outcome.” – Justin Pidot, professor of law at the University of Arizona


Newspaper Editorial Boards Oppose Calls for a Constitutional Convention

“Many of us can point to one constitutional provision or another that we believe we could improve upon if given a chance. But a convention could do great damage to a charter that, on balance, has worked pretty well for a pretty long time. To take such a risk on behalf of a stupendously unworthy cause such as a balanced-budget amendment would be foolhardy in the extreme.” – The Washington Post

“A convention would be impossible to control. Nothing in the Constitution gives Congress or the Supreme Court the power to tell the conventioneers what to do, or not do. A convention might be tasked to draft a balanced budget amendment and then decide that it wants to radically change the nature of the federal government or its relationship with the states. It might take up a passion of the moment by, say, limiting immigration by nationality or religious affiliation. It would have nearly unfettered powers to tinker with the DNA of America’s 240-year-old democracy.” – USA Today

“Supporters will tell you that the convention would be limited to writing an amendment on a balanced budget. But once assembled, those in attendance might find they have an appetite for more changes. Maybe there’d be a temptation to curb all those annoying protests by limiting the freedom to assemble. Or to make this a more Christian nation by messing with the freedom to worship. Or to act against mass shootings by taking out any right to bear arms. Or to move against what the president has labeled as “the enemy of the people,” a free media.” – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Convening a summit to amend the U.S. Constitution in today’s world of polarized-and-social-media-ized politics would be like giving a baby a ball-peen hammer — there’s no telling what the damage would be.” – The Dallas Morning News

“There’s good reason why this has never happened: There are no rules, and for every “good” idea for an amendment that a convention could produce, there are several “bad” ones that could also result from it.” – The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Once convened, however, delegates to the convention could radically rewrite the Constitution, a potentially dangerous development that should be avoided.” – Knoxville News-Sentinel

“Calling a Convention sets a precedent that could endanger the very document so many Americans hold dear…There’s a reason a Constitutional Convention hasn’t been called since 1787. Conservatives and others who value the nation’s founding document should be wary of the can of worms a Constitutional Convention could open.” – Charleston Gazette-Mail

“The danger of such an event is that its delegates would run amok. No one can say with certainty what the government would look like after they got done reinventing the country.” – The Lincoln Journal Star

“With so little precedent to guide the proceedings, a constitutional convention would be messy, unpredictable and dangerous.” – Wisconsin State Journal

“A runaway convention, and that is very possible, could be a threat to the Bill of Rights. Liberal states might try to alter the Second Amendment. Conservatives might want to change the First Amendment making Christianity the official religion of the country. There are no limits or restrictions on what such a convention could address.” – Tulsa World

“The first convention was guided by a presiding officer who put country above politics. That’s another reason why a second convention should be avoided. There is no George Washington among us today.” – Greensboro News & Record

“It is a misguided effort that has the potential to corrupt the Constitution, splinter an already divided nation and give smaller, less-populous states disproportionate political influence over larger states, including Ohio…The United States today is in need of more unity, and a constitutional convention would divide, not unify, the nation’s states and people.” – The Youngstown Vindicator

“A constitutional convention might not sound like such a bad idea if it stopped there. But a convention, once convened, could go in other directions.” – Corpus Christi Caller-Times

“America hasn’t held a constitutional convention since 1787. Given the quality of the statesmen we have today compared with then, and given the dangerous polarization that marks the United States today, calling one now could spiral into unknown territory and is an exceedingly bad idea.” – The Charlotte Observer

“Supporters generally say they want the convention to write a balanced-budget amendment. Other ideas are floating out there, too, including term limits for Congress, refiguring how federal judges are chosen or allowing a vote of state legislatures to override Supreme Court rulings. As New Hanover County’s Rep. Deb Butler wisely pointed out, this is a dangerous proposition — a bit like putting an Uzi in the hands of a toddler with a tantrum. Feelings are high right now, and an angry faction could do things that rest of us will regret for a long, long time.” – The Wilmington Star News

“The problem with the Convention of States Project is that once the convention of states is called, there is no real limit on what amendments could be proposed. It is a radical method of amending the U.S. Constitution that should be reserved as an option of last resort.” – Lawrence World-Journal

“The most dangerous part of such a convention is that it could become a roaring freight train, full of all kinds of heavy things, and without constitutional brakes it could become unstoppable. The Constitution of the United States gives states this power, should they use it, but doesn’t give them much direction. Who would be named as convention delegates? How many per state? Would it be open to the public? (The last one wasn’t.) Do we really need ephemeral matters of today enshrined in the Constitution, when perhaps laws would be better?” – Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“What would happen at a convention of states?. We don’t know, because everyone who thinks about this has different ideas about what needs to be done. A part of the Constitution that means something important to one person is another person’s problem.” – Danville Register & Bee

“We should be mindful — and cautious — of these convention pitches, in part because the of proposals’ origins on both sides.” – The Barre Montpelier Times Argus


Key Media Coverage of the Article V Convention Threat

Huff Post: A Radical Right-Wing Dream To Rewrite The Constitution Is Close To Coming True

by Travis Waldron; April 27, 2021


Associated Press: Budget hawks hatch plan to force constitutional convention

by Michael Biesecker; July 31, 2020


The Washington Post: The biggest threat to democracy that nobody is talking about

by Jonathan Capehart; September 4, 2018


The Guardian: Conservatives call for constitutional intervention last seen 230 years ago

by Jamiles Lartey; August 11, 2018


Center for Public Integrity: How a mock convention is helping fuel a movement to change the Constitution

by Sanya Mansoor; July 30, 2018


The Economist: America might see a new constitutional convention in a few years

by Dan Rosenheck; September 30, 2017


USA Today: In latest job, Jim DeMint wants to give Tea Party ‘ a new mission’

by Fredreka Schouten; June 12, 2017


Splinter News: Right-Wing Billionaires Are Buying Themselves a New Constitution

by Brendan O’Connor; April 4, 2017


Salon: Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to have a constitutional convention? Oh, hell no

by Paul Rosenberg; March 12, 2017


The Dallas Morning News: Mega-rich conservative donors are behind Texas’ obsession with amending the Constitution

by Brandi Grissom; March 1, 2017


The New York Times: Inside the Conservative Push for States to Amend the Constitution

by Michael Wines; August 22, 2016


Slate: Liberals and conservatives are teaming up to call a new constitutional convention

by Ashley Balcerzak; January 26, 2016

Take Action

Tell your lawmakers to hold firm against an Article V convention.

To: State lawmakers

We must not allow unelected, unaccountable delegates to rewrite our Constitution with zero checks and balances. Reject any and all calls for an Article V convention.