We mentioned last week that one of the main fears expressed by opponents of an Article V convention is the perceived chance of a “runaway convention” — a convention in which delegates supported changes to the Constitution that went beyond the mission that the delegates were originally given.
A bill introduced by state Rep. Karilyn Brown should help put those fears to rest.
Under Brown’s bill, an Arkansas convention delegate would be guilty of a Class B felony if the delegate violated the oath below:
In order to be considered for the positions of delegate or alternate delegate, a person shall take the following oath: “I do solemnly swear or affirm that to the best of my abilities, I will, as a delegate or alternate to an Article V Convention, uphold the Arkansas Constitution, the United States Constitution, and laws of the United States of America and the State of Arkansas. I will not vote to allow consideration of, to consider, or to approve an unauthorized amendment proposed for ratification to the United States Constitution. I understand that violation of this oath will result in my immediate recall and replacement at the Article V Convention and that additional criminal penalties may be imposed on me under Arkansas law”.
The bill requires that delegates limit the scope of their actions to the amendments that the convention was called for.
Brown’s bill has already been signed into state law in Indiana and Tennessee; it is under consideration in other states. Many states bind the votes of presidential electors who are sent to the Electoral College, either by state law or party rules, and measures that bind Article V convention delegates can be justified by the same logic.
This bill passed out of the House State Agencies Committee Wednesday morning. At worst, this bill will have no effect (if, for instance, a convention never occurred). At best, it would be a solid check on the chance of a “runaway convention.”