Most Americans agree that our federal government is too big and does not follow the Constitution. However, where many disagree is how to solve that problem. Some people think we can hold an Article V constitutional convention to make the federal government obey the Constitution, but that reasoning does not hold water. The problem we have is that Congress does not follow the Constitution we already have. How would changing the wording of the Constitution make them more likely to follow it?
Besides, Congress would be in control of a convention. Despite flowery rhetoric from proponents claiming that states would have the power, the actual wording of Article V refutes their claims. Article V clearly states that “Congress… shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments.” Even though states submit applications for Congress to call it, that does not change the fact that Congress is doing the calling. Phyllis Schlafly knew better than anyone how powerful that call could be. She attended countless political conventions over the course of her seventy years in public life. She attended every Republican National Convention from 1952 to 2016. As a verifiable expert on the subject, she knew that the body with the power to call the convention had near-total power over the proceedings. They would control the rules of the convention, who would preside over it, how delegates are selected, and how much money they would be appropriated.
The powers of Congress over an Article V convention has been considered by many constitutional scholars in addition to Phyllis Schlafly. Former Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote of the same problem. The American Bar Association conducted an in-depth study of a potential Article V convention and concluded that “Congress has the power to provide for such matters as the time and place of the convention, the composition and financing of the convention, and the manner of selecting delegates. Some of these items can only be fixed by Congress.”
Clearly, the way to fix our broken Congress is not to give them more power. Conservatives should not depend on a new constitutional convention to fix their problems.