Article V’s provision for a convention of states is the Constitution’s safety valve, a last resort when the ordinary functions of politics are obstructed and the pent-up pressures grow too great. Its purpose was to prevent the kind of constitutional coup d’état to which the framers themselves resorted when the existing system proved unresponsive during a crisis. As the delegates in Philadelphia knew, it was precisely the growing sense that the Articles of Confederation could not be amended that sealed their demise.
In the late 19th century, the New England poet and journalist James Russell Lowell warned against thinking of the Constitution as “a machine that would go of itself.” Without regular maintenance, it would sputter, stall, break down. Today, our government is a malfunctioning mess, and it will not fix itself. If we don’t open the safety valve soon, the machine will explode.Read More