Prodded by Common Cause and other democracy reform advocates, state legislators in Virginia and Idaho have rejected a dangerous scheme to convene a constitutional convention and potentially overhaul the nation’s founding document.
In Virginia, the Senate Rules Committee on Friday morning voted against a proposed call for a convention under Article V of the Constitution to consider an amendment that would require a balanced federal budget. Virginia is one just six states where Republicans control the legislature but have not adopted a balanced budget convention call.
In Idaho, after a large number of grassroots activists and voters showed up on Thursday to testify against calling a convention, a pro-convention resolution for an amendment to limit the power of the federal government was voted down 10-5.
The twin rejections leave convention proponents still dangerously close to success in their effort to secure convention calls from 34 state legislatures, the number required to force Congress to order a convention. Wealthy special interest groups, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are behind the convention movement; they’ve convinced 28 states to support a convention to enact a balanced budget amendment (BBA).
Once convened, there is nothing to stop convention delegates from proposing changes to any part of the Contitution. There also are no rules on how delegates would be picked, how the influence of special interests would be limited, or how the American people would be represented in a convention.
Luckily, legislators and voters are starting to understand these problems and why an Article V convention could endanger everyone’s constitutional rights and civil liberties.
The actions in Virginia and Idaho reflect a growing bipartisan willingness to stand up against the convention movement and in support of the process that has led to the adoption of the 27 amendments added to the Constitution over its 220-plus years. Amendments should be considered first by Congress and when adopted there be submitted to state legislatures for ratification by at least three-fourths (37) of the states.
To read Common Cause’s background memo about why an Article V convention is bad and dangerous idea, click here.
Issues: More Democracy Reforms