Convention of States (COS) is a variation on the discredited idea of a Con Con, by attempting to change the U.S. Constitution by holding a convention of delegates. The Convention of States is a gimmick which in the best case is merely a waste of time, but in the worst case could enable liberals to rewrite the Constitution.
After years of effort, the Convention of States had passed in only 15 states as of December 28, 2020: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri (with conditions and a 5-year sunset), Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Even then, some of their resolutions differed from each other, casting doubt on whether they can be counted together. Mississippi was the last state to enact it, on March 27, 2019. A total of 34 states are needed under Article V of the U.S. Constitution before Congress could call a new constitutional convention. The states do not "call" a convention, but merely apply to Congress to request that it calls one.
- Phyllis Schlafly
- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who called a new constitutional convention a "horrible idea" in May 2015
- Chief Justice Warren Burger, in the 1980s
- Dr. Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College and a constitutional scholar
(add to list)
In the calendar year 2015, only one state legislature, Alabama, had passed the gimmick of a "convention of states" as of May 23, 2015. Proposals for a convention of states failed in the following state legislatures in 2015:
- Arizona, Missouri, South Carolina, Montana, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Virginia, Utah, Indiana, West Virginia, Wyoming, Kentucky, South Dakota, Nevada, and Pennsylvania (no vote in Pennsylvania).
This was a decline in momentum from the prior year, 2014, in which three states had passed "convention of states" resolutions (Florida, Georgia, and Alaska).
On December 8, 2013, perhaps 100 state legislators from more than 30 states secretly met at Mount Vernon in Virginia to hatch their plan for another Con Con. Some of these state legislators have themselves voted to increase taxes, and yet insist that a rewriting of the Constitution is necessary to rein in government spending. If the idea is so great, then why do the legislators keep their identities secret?
No genuine movement conservatives have supported this dangerous scheme, and many vocally oppose it. Outspoken opponents of attempts to convene a Con Con include: Eagle Forum, Gun Owners of America, National Rifle Association, the Conservative Caucus, the American Legion, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists. Here are some resolutions by several of these groups in the past:
"Resolved, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in San Antonio, Texas, August 25, 26, 27, 1987, That it states its opposition to efforts to convene a Constitutional Convention for any purpose and specifically opposes the rewriting of the United States Constitution."
"Resolved, by the 85th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, that we oppose any attempt to call a Constitutional Convention, as this would give our enemies from within and without the opportunity to destroy our Nation." Resolution No. 449, Adopted by the 85th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States held in Chicago, Illinois, August 17–24, 1984.
"Resolved, That members of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution oppose efforts to rewrite the Constitution by Constitutional Convention." Adopted by the DAR Continental Congress, April 1986, Washington, D.C.
"Resolved, By the eligible voting members at the 1992 Annual Meeting of the National Rifle Association of America held in Salt Lake City on the 25th of April, 1992, that we oppose any attempt to call for a Constitutional Convention for any purpose whatsoever because it cannot be limited to a single issue and that our right to keep and bear arms can be seriously eroded."
A collection of left-leaning organizations met on April 8–10, 2005, at a conference called "The Constitution in 2020," held at Yale Law School. Perhaps as many as three of the five organizations which hosted the event were apparently recipients of funding from George Soros. A list of sponsors of that convention are:
- The American Constitution Society
- The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale
- The Open Society Institute
- The Center for American Progress
- The Yale Law School
Supporters today of the gimmick of a Convention of the States include:
- Mark Levin (who profited from a book on the subject)
- David Barton (who declined to run against moderate John Cornyn for U.S. Senate in Texas in 2014)
- Michael Farris (who runs a small college in Virginia)
- Glenn Beck (who is reportedly making tens of millions of dollars annually from Blaze television)
- the Goldwater Institute (which raises money off this plan)
- Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of Creative Commons