December 13, 2019
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What Ohio Gov. Kasich is pushing in Maine is ‘uncharted territory’ for the nation

Brian Cassella | MCT
Brian Cassella | MCT
Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks to the crowd Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is in Maine today to gin up support for a constitutional convention where a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution would be proposed.

It takes the support of two-thirds of the states (34) to call the convention; it would take the support of three-quarters of the states (38) to ratify an amendment. Beyond that, though, little is known about how a constitutional convention would go down. The last one happened in 1787.

Kasich is on a push to urge state legislatures to back a balanced-budget amendment. He’s also a prospective contender in the 2016 presidential primary. He’s in Maine after a swing through New Hampshire, home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Given that no constitutional convention has happened in 228 years, there’s little precedent to follow for the convention Kasich is pushing. Article V of the U.S. Constitution offers the thresholds of support needed to amend the Constitution, but no details on what a legislature would actually have to do to get behind the call for a convention.

Then, the Constitution doesn’t even offer the broadest of outlines for the proceedings of a constitutional convention and what could and couldn’t be done. Robert Greenstein of the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities offered this take last year in the Washington Post:

“As constitutional experts from the late Chief Justice Warren Burger to Justice Antonin Scalia to Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe have warned, a constitutional convention would place the nation in uncharted territory, with very serious risks for our political system. Convening a convention, as Tribe put it, would be ‘putting the whole Constitution up for grabs.’ And although I don’t often agree with Scalia, he hit the nail on the head when he said recently: ‘I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it?’”


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