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Abstract

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.

Date of Authorship for this Version

1985

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