Mesa, AZ, March 04, 2010 --(PR.com
)-- FixitTogether.org, a non-partisan, ideologically neutral organization, announced today the start of its public campaign to reform the federal government. “This is a difficult time for our country,” said James Rogers, a Harvard Law School graduate and Executive Director of the organization, “but we only have ourselves to blame for many of our problems. It is time we as normal Americans do something to fix our country.”
FixitTogether.org's purpose is to get a set of four constitutional amendments adopted. Their four proposed amendments are 1) a balanced budget amendment; 2) a congressional term limits amendment; 3) an amendment to reform the federal court system by imposing term limits on judges and letting Americans have an up-or-down vote on judges; and 4) an amendment to prohibit unfunded mandates on the states. All four of these amendments enjoy widespread support from Americans across the political spectrum. According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and published in the Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law, 76% of Americans support a balanced budget amendment, 71% support a term limits amendment, 74% support an amendment reforming the federal judiciary, and 69% support an unfunded mandates amendment.
Even though these reforms have been supported by overwhelming majorities for decades, Congress has refused to do anything about them. FixitTogether.org's strategy to get them adopted centers on Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which gives state legislatures the power to circumvent a recalcitrant Congress. When two-thirds of the state legislatures request it, Congress is required to call a convention (or “Article V convention”) to propose amendments to the Constitution. The proposed amendments must then be ratified by three-fourths of the states for them to become part of the Constitution.
The Constitution sets out two ways for it to be amended. The preliminary drafts of the Constitution only included one amendment method, giving Congress the sole power to amend the Constitution. The delegates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention worried, however, that there could come a time when Congress would become corrupt, ignore the will of the citizens, and refuse to adopt needed amendments that were in the nation's best interests. The framers thus included in Article V of the Constitution a second method for amending the Constitution, giving the states power over the amendment process as well.
The Article V convention process has never been used to amend the Constitution, but the number of states applying for a convention has nearly reached the required threshold several times. According to an article written by Rogers and published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, at least four amendments — the Seventeenth (direct election of Senators), Twenty-First (repealing prohibition), Twenty-Second (presidential term limits), and Twenty-Fifth Amendments (presidential succession) — were proposed by Congress in response to the growing numbers of requests from states for an Article V convention. FixitTogether.org's website has a tally of the number of states which have made requests for each of their four amendments. Their tally, which was made by examining the state requests listed in the Congressional Record, shows that twenty-three states have made requests for a convention for a balanced budget amendment. This means that the United States is only eleven states away from reaching the thirty-four required to force a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment.
Because an Article V convention has never been used, some questions remain about how it would function. Two things are clear, however: first, the scholarly consensus is that the states have the power to limit the subject matter to be discussed by a convention; second, any amendments proposed by a convention do not become part of the constitution until three-fourths of the states ratify them.
Since Congress has not passed the four amendments, FixitTogether.org's purpose is to encourage states to make requests to Congress to hold an Article V convention to propose the four amendments. The first stage of their campaign was to contact state legislators and ask for their support. “We've received positive responses from a few legislators in most states,” Rogers said, “but politicians don't really start to respond to an issue until they hear from their constituents.” To help people pressure their state legislators, FixitTogether.org's website has a state-by-state list of state legislators showing who has taken a pledge to support their four amendments. Their website also has a tool that allows people to look up their state legislators so they can contact them about this issue.
“We are completely nonpartisan — Americans of all political stripes are already united in support of these issues,” Rogers affirmed. “The best way to make things better is not through partisan games or divisive issues, but by focusing on issues we can all get behind. Most people agree that we need to do something to improve our country. Protesting and complaining may feel satisfying, but usually accomplish very little. Other people look at our country's problems and think "someone should do something to fix that," but never actually take the initiative to do something themselves to make a difference. FixitTogether.org gives Americans the chance to take responsibility and be that 'someone' who does something constructive to fix our problems.”