- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A federal court rejected a lawsuit trying to force Capitol Hill to call a constitutional convention of the states, with the judge saying the man who sued can’t prove he has suffered an injury from congressional inaction.

The two-page ruling by Judge Richard J. Leon, a Bush appointee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, underscored the challenges of those who believe enough states have requested a convention to trigger an Article V rewrite of the founding document.

“Here, the plaintiff does not show he has suffered an injury or the defendants’ action (or inaction) otherwise affects him personally,” Judge Leon wrote in an opinion dated from late October but not posted to the court’s document system until Wednesday.

A convention of the states has become a popular idea among tea party supporters and some conservatives. The most prominent suggestion is an amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

Article V of the Constitution says amendments can be proposed either by Congress or a convention called by at least two-thirds of the states.

More than enough states have submitted applications over the past two centuries, but historians, lawyers and political scientists have argued over whether the applications need to match, whether states can propose a convention for one limited purpose and whether states can rescind their applications.

Gary L. Smith, a prisoner serving time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, Texas, filed a lawsuit in September arguing that states should be allowed to rescind their applications but any request that is still active should be deemed a valid application for a general convention, even if the state specifically asks for consideration of only one of two issues.

Smith said 49 states have filed applications at one time or another.

“At this time more than two-thirds of the states (49 to be exact) have petitioned for a convention for proposing amendments,” he wrote. “Congress is therefore presently remiss in its constitutionally mandated obligation to call a convention for proposing amendments.”

He asked a judge to order the House and Senate to certify the applications and make arrangements for the convention.

Amendments proposed under a convention would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states, just as an amendment proposed by both houses of Congress would have to be.

Judge Leon didn’t deal with any of those arguments, saying he never had to reach them because he couldn’t consider the case until Smith proved he suffered a specific injury from Congress.

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