Briefcase: Constitutional Convention

Guest: Renee Knake


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With Congress once again unable to pass a balanced budget amendment, Texas is among many states calling for a constitutional convention. Renee Knake, with The UH Law Center, teaches constitutional law and explains why lawmakers across the country are considering this unusual move.

"It's a way to amend the Constitution without ever going through Congress," Professor Kanke said. "So in this instance, although 2/3 of Congress could pass an amendment requiring a balanced budget with ratification by ¾ of the states, that hasn't happened. Amendments are rare. Only 27 have made it through the congressional process. None have ever passed with a constitutional convention. There hasn't been one convened since the Constitution was written. But budget hawks have turned to the idea of one now, because it can be convened with approval by only 2/3 of the states."

Knake said convention proponents are getting close. ""With 28 states passing resolutions only 6 more are needed. A convention could lead to government reform, but it also could threaten rights we currently enjoy. Once convened, there are no limits on what can be considered."