In attacking recent court decisions on gay marriage, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore told reporters, “The moral foundation of our country is under attack. Government has become oppressive.” He went on to urge the nation’s governors to push back by asking their state legislators to call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. Moore is in good company. Faced with issues like balancing the federal budget, protecting gun rights, preserving state prerogatives in health care and insurance, and deciding who gets to marry whom, at least 20 states have already joined the “convention campaign.”
One of the last pieces of the Constitution that James Madison proposed in 1787 was how to keep the document alive. He was very conscious of the uneasy compromise he and his colleagues were trying to frame throughout the Constitution, and he wanted to make extra sure that there was procedural room that would allow the document to bend without breaking. He was especially conscious of the need to balance national with state power, since the convention in which he was sitting had been called by the states because the Articles of Confederation had crumbled.