Citizens Stand Up For Constitutional Rights, Block Dangerous Article V Convention Calls

Posted by Jay Riestenberg on February 21, 2018

Citizens and constitutional rights advocates are speaking up about the dangers of calling an Article V convention and it is working. Republican and Democratic state legislators across the country are rejecting a dangerous scheme to convene a constitutional convention and potentially overhaul the nation’s founding document.

Here are some highlights from the last few weeks:

In Virginia, a committee in the state Senate voted against a proposed call for an Article V convention for a balanced budget amendment, one of ALEC’s “model” bills. 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 to testify against calling a convention, a dangerous Convention of States measure was defeated in a 10-5 vote in a Republican-controlled committee.

In New Mexico, a state House committee unanimously voted against advancing a pro-convention resolution after hearing testimony from activists and everyday citizens about the dangers of a runaway convention.

In South Dakota, the Republican-controlled state Senate voted against a dangerous Convention of States measure with a 16-18 vote.

In Washington, several resolutions pushed by out-of-state special interest groups calling for an Article V convention failed to meet to a legislative deadline and therefore have been defeated for this year.

In New Hampshire, a Republican controlled state House committee voted against a Convention of States measure with a 17-1 vote.

Despite the good news from these states, convention proponents are 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. Backed by big money donors and wealthy special interest groups, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Article V convention advocates claim that 28 states have "live" applications to call a constitutional convention to enact a balanced budget amendment. That's just six states away from the 34 needed.

Once convened, there is nothing to stop convention delegates from proposing changes to any part of the Constitution. 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. At a time of extreme gerrymandering, big money in politics, and growing political polarization, a constitutional convention could put everyone's constitutional rights and all federal protections up for grabs. The right to vote, right to free speech, access to reproductive healthcare, environmental protection, citizenship rights, marriage equality, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid could all be on the chopping block. 

Luckily, legislators and voters are starting to understand these problems and why an Article V convention could endanger every American's civil rights and liberties. The actions of the states above reflect a growing bipartisan willingness to stand up against calling a dangerous new constitutional convention. 

To read Common Cause’s background memo about why an Article V convention is bad and dangerous idea, click here.

Office: Common Cause Idaho, Common Cause National, Common Cause Virginia

Issues: More Democracy Reforms

Tags: The Dangerous Path, ALEC

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