• Conservatives are just 15 states away from an unprecedented constitutional convention.
  • A group with ties to Trump's orbit and corporate America is leading the push.
  • Five states, including Wisconsin, have joined the pro-convention movement in recent years.

Conservatives are just 15 states away from an unprecedented gathering that could re-write large parts of the US Constitution and fundamentally change American life.

With Congress' initiative, the US Constitution has been amended 27 times. But never before has the core American document been amended through a state-led process — the second track that the founders created under Article V of the Constitution.

Conservatives are frustrated by Democrats' control of Washington and — even when Republicans are in charge — the growing size of government.

"The idea of states coming together is going to scare the living hell out of Washington," state Rep. Bill Taylor of South Carolina, who led his state's push to pass a call for a convention, told Insider. "They are going to be terrified of the states."

The Convention of the States movement is just one of the organizations pushing for such a convention. But it is arguably the best-funded and has made the most recent progress — and boasts ties to former President Donald Trump's orbit, such as former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and John Eastman, the conservative legal scholar who later supported Trump's effort to overturn the election.

Five states — Wisconsin, South Carolina, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and West Virginia — have passed the organization's pro-convention resolution in the just last two years.

With Republicans poised for a potential wave election come November, more GOP-controlled states could join the pro-convention resolution crowd.


Republicans pushing for a convention are playing a new long game, similar to how they spent decades working to overturn the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.

This time, conservatives want to constitutionally reduce the size of government, make it easier to fire federal employees such as National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, eliminate whole Cabinet-level agencies, and enshrine a nine-justice Supreme Court.

Insider has documented how the conservative group, Convention of the States, is working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to push model resolutions in state legislatures throughout the nation.

ALEC is known for its aggressive lobbying in state capitals and its close ties to major corporations, including tobacco giant Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, and PhRMA, the lobbying arm of top drugmakers, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.

The push for a new constitutional convention is not unprecedented. Hundreds of calls for conventions have passed since the nascent US government ripped up the Articles of Confederation and ratified the Constitution in 1788. Since then, organizers have tried to use Article V power to balance the budget, limit big money in politics, institute term limits on members of Congress, and directly elect senators. 

The prospect of a convention alone can push lawmakers to capitulate and start the amendment process on their own — making the early 20th-century history of the 17th Amendment worth revisiting. 

The early-20th century progressive movement successfully pressured Congress to enact the 17th Amendment in 1912 after several states passed calls for a convention to directly elect US senators — illustrating how a convention isn't necessary to achieve lasting change. Just the threat of one can work.

More than a century after the 17th Amendment's ratification, one prominent Republican sees history — at least procedurally — repeating itself.

"What is most likely is that as we move closer to a convention of the states that at the last minute, Congress will blink and pass the underlying amendments. That's what history shows us is likely to happen," Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a former presidential candidate who is eyeing another run in 2024 and who is himself pushing a term-limits amendment, told Insider.

Cruz also did not express definitive support for a convention.

Read Insider's full story on the movement to call a new constitutional convention

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