7For further information on the prodding effect and the 17thAmendment, see CRS Report R42592, The Article V Convention for Proposing Constitutional Amendments: Historical Perspectives for Congress, by Thomas H. Neale, pp. 9-10. 8For further information on these campaigns for an Article V Convention, see ibid., pp. 10-14.
The Article V Convention: Contemporary Issues for Congress Congressional Research Service 4 The Constitution’s stringent requirement that a super-majority of two-thirds of the state legislatures must apply for an Article V Convention has always served as the principal deterrent to calling a convention that did not enjoy broad support. This was intended by the founders; as Supreme Court Justice and constitutional scholar Joseph Story noted, “[t]he great principle to be sought is to make the changes practicable, but not too easy; to secure due deliberation, and caution; and to follow experience, rather than to open a way for experiments, suggested by mere speculation or theory.”9Moreover, it was not easy, even after the advent of mass electronic communications in the 20thcentury, to mount a campaign able to secure convention applications from a large number of states. As late as the 1960s through the 1980s, it took time for a grass-roots movement to emerge, communicate with like-minded individuals and groups, coalesce around an agreed-upon program, establish a national structure of groups sharing the same interest to promote a particular cause, and gradually to develop the ancillary skills necessary for nationwide advocacy, most importantly in the state legislatures.The measured pace of the legislative process in the states also traditionally served as a check to a convention. While most state legislatures convene annually, their sessions are frequently limited by law. Thirty-two states place some form of time constraint on their sessions, frequently limiting them to as little as 60 to 90 session days.10Convention advocates arguably faced a daunting task in securing timely action on a convention proposal, given the generally hectic pace and urgent demands faced by most state legislators during their sessions. In the case of the balanced budget amendment campaign, seven years of organized activity were needed to gain applications from 32 state legislatures.Factors Contributing to the Revival of the Article V ConventionAs noted previously, from the 1960s through the early 1980s, supporters of the Article V Convention alternative mounted campaigns to consider diverse issues. Although these gained broad support, none attained the constitutional threshold of 34 state applications. The failure of these efforts was followed by nearly three decades of relative inactivity. In the 21stcentury, however, the convention alternative began to experience a revival among groups that span the political spectrum. Advocacy organizations as disparate as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street view the convention as an alternative to perceived policy deadlock at the federal level.