There’s clearly a kill-a-fly-with-a-hand-grenade aspect to this. The 113th Congress that will be Coburn’s last has enacted 163 laws since January 2013 — which, while low, is still about six times the number of constitutional amendments. That’s because constitutional amendments were never intended to be a form of legislation; the Founding Fathers assumed Congress would do that to the public’s satisfaction, or the public would elect a new Congress. That thinking may have been flawed. Control of the Senate might switch after November. Control of the House will not — and nearly all of the House incumbents will return to Washington.
Coburn’s goals — as told to The Hill: “I think we ought to have a balanced budget amendment, I think we ought to have term limits. I think we ought to put a chokehold on regulation and re-establish the powers of the Congress.” — depend largely on Article V of the Constitution, the shortest of the document’s seven articles. It establishes two ways in which the Constitution can be amended. First, two-thirds of the Senate and House can pass an amendment. Or, should Congress be incapable of passing even simple majority legislation, two-thirds of the states can request a constitutional convention to draft amendments.
It’s this second plan that Coburn is endorsing. He’s already reached out to two groups that are involved in an ongoing push to get state legislatures to make the appropriate request. One, Citizens for Self-Governance, has an ongoing project calling for a “Convention of States” with the goal of amending the Constitution. Its priorities, not coincidentally, echo Coburn’s.