March 6, 2014
To: Utah State Representatives
From: The Jeffersonian Project
Re: Support for HJR 8
The Utah State Legislature will soon consider HJR 8. This resolution calls for an Article V Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has adopted a model resolution calling for an Article V Convention to propose a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment. In accordance with the ALEC model resolution, the Jeffersonian Project supports HJR 8 which proposes a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution through an Article V Convention.
One of the most controversial aspects of pursuing a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment through an Article V Convention is the specter of the "runaway convention." Some argue that once the convention meets, delegates will introduce other amendments beyond the convention's legal purpose. However, our Founders put countless safeguards in place to prevent this scenario. For example, state legislatures can correct or recall any delegates attempting to exceed their power. Amendments adopted outside the Convention's legal purpose are not constitutionally valid. Therefore, Congress would have no legal right to select a mode of ratification for the amendment. Furthermore, the courts can declare Congress's decision to ratify an amendment void. States also can refuse to ratify the amendment, and even state agencies can treat the amendment as void. There are far more political and legal constraints on a runaway convention than on a runaway Congress.
America faces an uncertain economic future. Moody's Investors Services stated that the soaring national debt could threaten our government's strong "AAA" rating. Experts estimate that the rising debt has surpassed $17 trillion, meaning that every American would owe almost $54,559 to pay down the debt. Spending ourselves into more debt won't solve that problem; in fact, doing so will only make it worse. This reality is a non-partisan fiscal fact that we can no longer afford to ignore. The Jeffersonian Project encourages state legislators to look out for our nation's long-term interests by exercising their rights within the U.S. Constitution to limit Congress's ability to drive our country into further economic danger.
Utah has a great opportunity to promote a healthy economic future for the state and for the nation. The Jeffersonian Project supports HJR 8 and encourages Utah Representatives to take the lead in promoting federal fiscal responsibility and a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Click here for more information on Article V conventions.
Click here to download a free copy of Proposing Constitutional Amendments by a Convention of the States: A Handbook for State Legislatures.
The Jeffersonian Project is the 501(c)4 affiliate of the American Legislative Exchange Council.