How Tennessee Could Be About To Start A Constitutional Crisis

Tyler Durden's picture

The State Senate of Tennessee has laid the legislative groundwork for something that hasn't been done in the United States of America since the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia.  With a vote of 27-3, the Tennessee Senate has voted to call a "convention of the states" in order to draft and pass an amendment to the Constitution that would require balanced budgets to be passed every year. 

For those who are little fuzzy on their high school U.S. history knowledge, the Tennessean explains that the U.S. Constitution can be amended in two ways.  The first would require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of Congress, an unlikely outcome in today's hyper-partisan political arena.  The second, on the other hand, requires that two-thirds of the states (34 in total) pass a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention

There are two ways to propose amendments to the Constitution. The first and more traditional method is through a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Then the amendment is sent to the state legislatures, where it needs ratification by three-fourths or 38 states in order to become law. Nearly all 27 amendments have followed this path.


But the Constitution also provides a second, more populist path to amending the document. If two-thirds or 34 states pass a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention, delegates from all 50 states will meet to draft an amendment. This is what the Tennessee lawmakers are calling for in their resolution.

Of course, calls for a convention to pass a balanced budget amendment started in the 1970s and have failed each time.  That said, with Republicans now controlling 32 state legislatures, this latest effort initiated by Tennessee seems to have the best chance of succeeding so far. 

And while there have been close calls for Constitutional Conventions before, each time Congress has acted preemptively to stave off the need for a convention. In 1911, for example, 28 states of the required 32 passed a resolution calling for direct election of Senators before Congress intervened and drafted the Seventeenth Amendment instead.



But, as the Tennessean notes, the problem with amending the Constitution through a convention is that once the convention is convened anything can happen.  For example, the last time the states gathered for a convention in 1787 they ended up tossing out the Articles of Confederation and forming an entirely new government based on the current Constitution.

The last time the states gathered to amend a governing document on the scale the resolution calls for, the delegates threw out America’s first basis of government and replaced it with the Constitutional system used today.


“They were supposed to meet to make amendments to the Articles of Confederation but ended up with a whole new form of government," said Nathan Griffith, an associate professor of political science at Belmont University. "Not just a new constitution, but a whole new form of government."

If enough states pass a similar resolution, then a planning convention could meet as early as this upcoming July, and by November the first Article V Convention in history could be called by Congress.

Meanwhile, as we noted earlier today, President Trump offered his own warning on America's national debt this morning saying that "[spending] was out of control," as officials gathered to discuss the budget, adding that there is "enormous work to do on the national debt."

There is a "moral duty" to taxpayers, President Trump says at White House budget lunch, "we must do a lot more with less."


"Our budget is absolutely out of control" he added, and in the future "will reflect our priorities."


The hiring freeze for non-essential workers will remain.


"We have enormous work to do on the national debt"


There will be "no more wasted money, we will spend in a careful way."


Of course, we're not really sure what all the fuss is about...only $10 trillion has been added to the national debt over the past 8 years, which, when you think about it, is a very manageable $31,000 per man, woman and child.



And balancing the budget 5 years out of 50 is pretty good, right?

Budget Deficit

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City_Of_Champyinz's picture

old news...Article V activity is just about reaching a crescendo.   Take back your republic, now or never.

yrad's picture

You can go to Hell, I'm going to Texas.

Jäger's picture

There's a difference?

TeamDepends's picture

We decree, should this come to pass, that all communists must be no more than three (3) feet tall with flat heads so you can rest your beer on them; and that the Articles Of Confederation be restored.

wee-weed up's picture

If Hitlery and the Left had won the election, this might have been a viable option. Not so much now with Trump at the helm.

greenskeeper carl's picture

Sorry, but I don't want any of these people making changes to the constitution. No matter what they say, it will end up worse than it already is. They will end up codifying all of the illegal and unconstitutional things they are already doing.


We were better off under the original Articles, the constitution grew government immeasurably. What they do next is far more likely to continue that growth than shrink it.

Zorba's idea's picture

past due, much of them have been ajudicated, obfuscated, confiscated and obliterated beyond recognition.  its time to go back and do some repairs and refortifications in the name of our founders.  its high time for all flyover people to stand up and fight for our rights. highly encourage all to read or reread the declaration of independence, the constitution and the bill of rights. Its Time

Bobrsta's picture

No! The problem now is not with our Constitution but that we do not follow it!

CrazyCooter's picture

I can not stress enough that if we followed the fucking rules we already have - we wouldn't have any of our current problems.

If this plays through, what we get will be vastly, vastly worse than what we already have.



CrazyCooter's picture

To be clear - if we don't follow the damned rules now - what fucking difference does a new set of rules make?

The world is full of idiots.



Manthong's picture

Really complicated stuff.

But for Constitutional patriots the founders made it really simple.

Even if I have an RPG…

The government  "shall not infringe".



understand...RPG's are common street tools thanks to US Government "policy".

see..M,E. .... US.... All F'd up




JRobby's picture


This is what the "disagreements" are all about.

The US Constitution has been disregarded and people are ready to change things now.

fortune114's picture

Sounds plausible until you realize the rules have been rewritten from the Federal judges bench to the point where the rules we follow now are almost indistinguishable from the Constitution.  

StaySunny3000's picture

Following the rules we already have won't do diddley.  Risking a Con Con is necessary iMHO because (a) the shadow government created by the 14th amendment which enshrined a legal definition of "citizen" that amounts to slavery, (b) the creation of the Federal Reserve which is unconstitutional, (c) the 16th amendment which was never legally ratified (no coincindence it arrived right after the Fed was established illegally as well as the Ford and Rockerfeller Foundations).  Last but not least (as long as I'm dreaming big) the 1947 National Security Act needs to be tightened up and the CIA abolished, as well as corporate personhood. 

Simply enforcing the Constitution will fix none of these glaring problems, and it begs the question of who is going to accomplish this enforcement when there are so many dark forces ensuring the status quo remains.  Yes, there is a grave chance that a Constitutional Convention will simply make things worse, but the way I see it, there is no other way to really drain the swamp than to decrease the power of the Deep State and increase the power of We the People.  Other than outright revolution, a Con Con seems the only bloodless way to go.

Trucker Glock's picture


"No! The problem now is not with our Constitution but that we do not follow it!"

The Constitution is the problem.  Read the Anti Federalist Papers.

Akzed's picture
“But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”-Lysander Spooner

Not sure I endorse the last sentence. Perhaps a convention could put some teeth in the Constitution to prevent its abuse. Whatever is done in convention would have to be ratified by the states. At the same time, congress could simply pass laws for e.g. a balanced budget, or removing issues like abortion and marriage from the courts' jurisdiction, w/o the need for a convention. I'm ambivalent. 

Jeffersonian Liberal's picture

We do not follow it because both Houses and esp. the HOR have ceded power to the Executive and Judicial Branches.

The idea of a Convention of the States would be to limit their powers BACK TO the powers as defined in the USC.

Jack's Raging Bile Duct's picture

A constitutional convention would be one of the most cloak-and-dagger affairs the world has ever witnessed. One can barely get a politician to acknowledge the constitution, let alone enforce it. The political class subvert it at every turn. Furthermore, there is a huge percentage of people in this country that would like it dismantled as well, across several political denominations.

What makes you think a convention would change this behavior?

4 wheel drift's picture



how about this...  if Trump survives the current soft coup by the spooks (not to mention the elites

in the background)....   and assuming Trump gets a second term, and retaining both houses still in

republican control...    ---> BUT with the mid-term elecion kicking out the RINO's and replcing every single

traitor (on both sides)....  THEN we have a chance for REAL CHANGE

SimplePrinciple's picture

First, we'd need paper ballots and prosecuting the voter fraud from the last election.  Otherwise TPTB would just double down on the rigging.

JRobby's picture


Trump has been successful in revealing the deep state motivation (corporate profits) MSM propaganda and congressional corruption in a new light. Some still refuse to see.

Nothing changes until many legislators and judges are removed nation wide.

darkstar7646's picture

Isn't that what the Trump voters voted for?  A country by, of, and for the socially useful - while the rest either are treated as the family housepet or taken out back and shot like Old Yeller...

Snout the First's picture

Typical idiotic liberal comment. It is either one absurd extreme or the other. Libs never accept the possibility of reasonable solutions between the extremes.

cheech_wizard's picture

Dibs on taking the first potshot in your general direction...

Standard Disclaimer: What? You think only Hillary and her ilk know how to get in touch with a contract killer?

MasterControl's picture

You retards are beyond help.  You are in another universe altogether.
Shit like you can only be purged with civil strife.

drendebe10's picture

If u like ur Constitution, u can keep ur Constitution.



In tge mean time. Go Vols!

marathonman's picture

The Constitution was a power ratchet.  Once gained it is never relinquished.  I don't trust any of the creatures in Congress or the lawyers that will gather at the banquet table,  For some weird reason I keep hearing that Hotel California verse in the background, 'And in the Master's chambers they gathered for the feast, they stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the Beast.'  Weird.

Jeffersonian Liberal's picture

"...these people..."

You mean a solid majority of the states?

But you'd rather have a bunch of unelected bureaucrats running the swamp to bleed the USC to death with a thousand nicks?

A convention of the states would require a solid majority of the states to pass any amendments.

This is a far better representative of the people than those in DC.

And the idea behind this movement is that a majority of the people in this country want to preserve the USC and want the federal government to be restricted by the USC but that DC and the 'coasts' (leftist population centers) have undermined the USC and represent a minority of the electorate.

This movement is an attempt to shrink the power of the Federal Leviathan back to how our Founding Fathers originally restricted them.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Now, now.   It's actually "hear hear!".   My certainty on this is so so.  

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture

The articles of confederation would be an improvement, but really all we need to do is implement most of the reforms suggested in the anti-federalist papers.

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture

I say lets do it. If they make it worse, everyone will know and that will spark a revolutions. It is win/win vs lose/lose.

chiaroscuro's picture

If you survive a war to see the outcome of the trouble you began you will almost certainly be left wishing you had just left the Constitution alone.

sodbuster's picture

>There's a difference?<   In the summer it's tough to tell........

City_Of_Champyinz's picture

Something tells me ypu are already in Texas.

Sanity Bear's picture

between the two of you, I bet you'll have a higher A/C bill in Texas

Jäger's picture

I'd rather go to hell- too many Mexicans in TX.

Savyindallas's picture

I see as many, if not more Indians, pakistanis, Koreans, Chinese, Somalians, Nigerians and other third world "legal" Immigrnats in Dallas, than I do Illegal Mexicans  -and we have a LOT of illegal mexicans. 

83_vf_1100_c's picture

I am already here and we have our own share of problems. August in TX is arguably hotter than hell. It is the humidity, Hades is hot but it is a dry heat.

coast1's picture

hey...if you get this.. I have a video song for you...I like chris rea, and its a song about going to texas  enjoy......

lil dirtball's picture

... continual crisis ...

"You live in a theme park." - Joe Walsh

fortune114's picture

Terrible headline... how would using the Consitution as written lead to a Constitutional crises?  And the Convention will only have the power to PROPOSE formal amendmentments, which still must be voted on later by the respective State legislatures.  Or not.  The Article V Convention has nothing to do with the dissolution of the Articles of Confederation.  There is no "last time it happened" because one has never been called.  We sorely need one now.  Just to give you an example, there was a simulated Convention this past Fall involving legislators from all 50 States.  One of the amendments proposed was the ability of the States by 2/3 vote to nullify a Federal rule, law, or regulation.  In other words, piss off, Congress, if you've passed some piece of garbage (Obamacare), and piss off, EPA, if you say carbon dioxide is a pollutant, and piss off Federal judge, if you try and legislate from the bench.  Another propsed amendement was the repeal of the 16th Amendment.  Yeah, that's the one that gave Fed Gov the power to tax a person's income directly.  

Black Warrior Waterdog's picture

Tip: Neither the R's nor the D's want a balanced budget.

Sir Publius's picture

Article V was put into the Constitution by a UNAMIMOUS decision, and for very good reason. To utilize it is not to go against the Constitution or replace it in any way, but is to USE the Constitution. Its a real shame that this movement is getting attacked by both sides...predictably by people who hate state rights and the Constitution, but also by people who fear the Constitution will be tossed away if we use it. To the latter group I would simply ask...and BTW....I'm NOT adocating we toss the Constitution aside or that this process could or would...but I would ask them....what are you really so afraid of? Don't you see that this county has ALREADY cast the Constitution ALREADY ignoring it? What then is there to lose by bringing attention to states rights and to the Constitution via this process? Seriously. Judges are taking over, bureaucracy is taking over, the executive is taking over....Article V is there for a reason. Its our parachute lever. All we need to do is pull it. I think it may however take some EVENT for people to actually use it. I hope that event happens before its too late. Because the framework for ignroing twisting and destroying the Constitution is ALREADY in place. Its not something we should fear might IS happening. And unless we act, our country as founded is going to be lost. 

Lost in translation's picture

I'm sure that replacing the Constitution with what the ruling class wants should work out well.


Starvation 2017's picture

Even if that were to happen it wouldn't last.

Tensions are high, I'd venture to say people are just waiting for a spark to set things off and that certainly meets the criteria. I believe the US is prime for balkanization, and you know what? I think that's a good thing in a lot of ways. There are certainly drawbacks but maybe people could finally move to their respective liberal and conservative utopias and leave each other the fuck alone.