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

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

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

The Heartland Institute, where I also am Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence, has just issued a Policy Brief containing my analysis of the ASL rules. 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 (on which I worked) and the skeletal set approved by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

You can find the new analysis here.