Alaska Lawmakers Call for Article V ‘Countermand Amendment’ Convention

Published May 15, 2016

Alaska lawmakers passed a resolution calling for Congress to convene a national convention for the purpose of drafting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution and authorizing the state to participate.

The resolution, approved in April, calls for Congress to convene a convention of the states to draft a constitutional amendment creating a “countermand veto” power for state legislatures. If 33 other states call for a convention and 38 states ratify the amendment, states will be able to override federal legislation, executive orders, or court orders whenever 30 states agree to such a veto.

Restoring Balance of Power

The resolution’s sponsor, state Rep. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer), says the federal government has taken too much power away from the states. 

“I think this is something that could help bring back the pendulum and the proper balance between the state and federal government,” Hughes said. “It’s gotten to the point where the states aren’t always being regarded the way they were in the first 100 years of our nation. Sometimes, the federal government just goes above and beyond and definitely crosses over the line, as far as states’ rights, and overreaches and oversteps its bounds.” 

Hughes says state lawmakers know their states’ needs better than federal lawmakers and bureaucrats in Washington, DC.

“Sometimes they simply don’t know what’s best,” Hughes said. “They don’t know what states need. It’s not left or right, or conservative or liberal. It’s really about the intended balance of power. I don’t believe there’s a state in the union that hasn’t come up against a barrier of the federal government.”

Increasingly Popular Idea

Kyle Maichle, project manager for constitutional reform issues at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says state lawmakers are considering a variety of constitutional reform proposals as a way to do what Washington, DC lawmakers will not do.

“We’re seeing it all over,” Maichle said. “You’re going to see approval happen in states such as Arizona, Kentucky, Virginia, and Wisconsin—all of which are likely going to consider these applications.”

Maichle says using the processes provided for in the U.S. Constitution to modify the Constitution is becoming an increasingly popular idea with everyday Americans.

“We’re starting to see more people latch on and support this idea of an Article V convention,” Maichle said. “If we’re successful in getting a single-subject convention for a balanced budget amendment, I would not be surprised to see a big push for a single-subject congressional term limits convention as well. You could see this done for a variety of other amendments as well, such as a federal school choice amendment.”

Danedri Herbert ([email protected]) writes from Kansas City, Kansas.

Internet Info:

Michael Stokes Paulsen, “A General Theory of Article V: The Constitutional Lessons of the Twenty-Seventh Amendment,” Yale Law Journal, December 1, 1993: