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Constitutional Conventions and the Deficit, 1985 Duke Law Journal 1077 (1985)


I want to suggest that we are once again on the verge of such a
constitutional moment, a time when legal tradition and the popular will
collide; the popular will prevails, and, as a result, the fundamental law
changes. In this instance, the drama is being played out in an unfamiliar
location: not in the Supreme Court, but in state legislatures. Beginning
in 1975, the National Taxpayers Union, a grass-roots movement opposed
to federal budget deficits, began to lobby state legislatures to petition
Congress to call a constitutional convention to deal with federal budget
deficits.' So far, this popular movement has persuaded thirty-two state
legislatures to adopt resolutions calling upon Congress to convene a constitutional convention, only two shy of the two-thirds required by article
V of the Constitution. If two other states join the movement, Congress
will either be forced to call a constitutional convention, or to engage in
the spectacle of interpreting legalistically petitions from thirty-four
states, in defiance of the popular will. On only a few occasions before in
our history have we come this close to a constitutional convention.

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