Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org
Seven hundred and sixty-three.
No, that’s not how much the national debt is ticking upwards per second, or how much you’ll pay annually for premiums under Obamacare.
It’s the total number of applications that 49 states — every state except Hawaii — have sent petitioning the U.S. Congress to call for a controversial Article V convention of states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution and rein in the federal government.
The concept of a convention to bring power back to the states may not be widely known, but it’s an idea that’s slowly gaining steam as Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress and fear the federal government has grown too large and too powerful.
The Founding Fathers, recognizing that it wouldn’t be in Congress’ own interest to rein in their power, made a provision in the U.S. Constitution for Congress to be required to call a convention if two-thirds of the states — 34 now — demand one. Any constitutional amendments proposed at a convention of states still would have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states, or 38 states.
But longtime advocates for an Article V convention of states say Congress received more than enough applications decades ago.
Ignoring those applications, says Bill Walker, cofounder of the Friends of the Article V Convention, is a “massive constitutional violation.”
“The Congress knows all about this, and they know they’re supposed to call (a convention), and they’re doing everything they can to avoid it,” the Seattle-based former journalist told Watchdog.org.
When Walker began researching the subject in the 1990s out of curiosity, he said he figured Congress either had some legal justification for not calling a convention, or simply wasn’t aware. After all, there seemed to be plenty of applications.
He soon learned that wasn’t the case.
Starting in 2000, Walker filed his first of two lawsuits against the United States government, going so far as to claim Congress was in criminal violation of the Constitution for failing to call a convention.
The cases essentially established that the Constitution bears no time limit on applications to Congress, or restrictions that requests for convention be on the same topic.
That, however, hasn’t changed anything.
John De Herrera, a California author and activist affiliated with the Friends of the Article V Convention, said Congress needs to “stop playing dumb.”
“We’re just waiting for the Congress to wake up,” he said.
Right now, they’re at 763 applications for a convention, and counting.
“You have a massive scandal involving Congress, and no one’s paying attention to it,” Walker said.
“This makes Watergate look like child’s play,” Walker added. “… If they can disobey that, then why can’t they disobey the rest of the Constitution?”
— Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org, and can be found on Twitter @kathrynw5.