Convention Rules from the “Assembly of State Legislatures:” Two Cheers Only

This posting was updated on Jan. 18, 2023.

In June, 2016 the Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL), a planning group of state lawmakers (now apparently defunct), issued suggested rules for an Article V Convention for Proposing Amendments.

The rules were a commendable effort. But they also fell short in a number of ways, partly because the composition of the ASL differed from that of an actual convention and partly because the ASL leadership was reluctant to draw on historical convention experience.

As a result of the ASL experience, I wrote, and The Heartland Institute issued, a Policy Brief containing my analysis of the ASL rules (pdf). The Policy Brief gives full credit to ASL for some excellent ideas. It also criticizes some poorly drafted and unrealistic provisions—the most important of which are “supermajority” requirements sprinkled throughout the document. The analysis finds those supermajority requirements to be unworkable, unfair, and contrary to the constitutional balance built into Article V.

The Policy Brief recommends that future planners draw on the good ideas in the ASL rules. It further recommends that future planners not use the ASL product as a foundation, but instead base their efforts on the rules actually employed by previous successful conventions of states. Other organizations proposing model rules have done just this. Examples include the model rules issued by the Convention of States movement (pdf) (on which I worked) and the skeletal set approved by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

You can find my analysis here (pdf).