"I'd like more information about this..."
That was the oft-repeated line spoken to Convention of States Projects Illinois Legislative Liaison Victoria Deppe as she spent last week in Springfield talking to lawmakers from both parties and their staffers about an Article V Convention of States.
Under Article V of the Constitution should two-thirds of the state legislatures make an application, a Convention of the States would be called where delegates would debate proposed amendments to the Constitution for possible ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures.
According to Deppe, lawmakers in Springfield have been surprisingly receptive to her effort.
Because Illinois is a donor state, "The Idea that we could get tens of billions of dollars back from this washing of money through the federal government is very appealing to Illinois legislators," Deppe said.
Deppe says that voters she's talked to have been most receptive to the idea of an Article V Convention, especially when the topic of Congress exempting itself from the laws it passes comes up.
"I have yet to talk to someone no matter how liberal or conservative who thinks that is okay," she said.
So far, Georgia, Alaska, and Florida legislatures have passed their applications to hold a convention. Neighboring Indiana is looking into it. Meanwhile a number of prominent national political figures have endorsed the Convention of States initiative, including syndicated columnist George Will, former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, Lt. Col. Allen West, and former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, as did the late U.S. presidents Eisenhower and Reagan, as well as the late economist Milton Friedman.
Deppe cautioned about endorsements saying, "It's kind of a double-edged sword. One of the things that I try to bear in mind is focusing people on the message and not the messengers. What we're trying to do is reach out to the people on the merits for having a convention."
Opponents of an Article V Convention argue that any such convention would turn into a "runaway convention" where any and all(including drastic and radical) changes to the Constitution could occur.
Deppe believes that those worries are unfounded due to the structural protections built into the Convention process.
"The most important features is that anything that would come out of this convention would have to be passed by three-fourths ratification of the states and right now conservatives control 27 state legislatures and liberals control 18 so neither side has enough control of the legislatures to force anything that does not enjoy broad support of the American people.
There are also a number of other layers of protections, the first is that any delegate that goes rogue and operates outside of the mandate the state sent them to accomplish can be removed, recalled, and replaced.
Secondly, any amendment that comes out of the convention would have had to have had a majority, if not a super-majority, from all the delegates.
"There's just very little chance of a "runaway convention" happening," Deppe said.
To learn more about the Convention of States Project or to volunteer just head on over to their website(here).