What Does Article V Mean for Democracy? – Part Two
If an Article V convention were to take place, our rights would be put at risk. Wealthy interest groups, like the Koch brothers, desire to overpower the will of the American people and reshape the Constitution as they see fit. Provisions could be added that would take away the freedom to make medical decisions about our own bodies. This means that reproductive autonomy, access to gender-affirming procedures, and treatment options for all health issues could be severely restricted. Ultimately, this would be a huge detriment to the quality of life for many individual Americans. However, the effects on how we interact with one another would be vast as well.
The freedom to marry the people we love, regardless of gender, race, and identity, is a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, there are people who would force their own ideas of matrimony as limited to heterosexual men and women on others if given the opportunity. Marriage equality for all people could once again be restricted, particularly targeting the LGBTQ+ community. An Article V convention would provide the chance for bigots to legalize their beliefs and implement them within society at large.
The United States was founded by immigrants and has benefitted from new arrivals to our country ever since. Without immigration, we would not be the strong nation we are today. The ability for people from other countries to come to the US and start a life here is outlined in Article I of the Constitution. In an Article V convention, wealthy interest groups could change the language of the Constitution to limit the ability of folks — and even which groups — are allowed to immigrate here and become naturalized citizens.
We often forget the extent to which we are affected by the Constitution. However, an Article V convention could change our everyday lives for the worse. In order to protect ourselves, loved ones, and communities, we cannot allow an unruly convention to occur.
An Article V Constitutional convention would put everyone at risk of losing their Constitutional rights. However, this threat extends beyond individuals — it has the potential to literally destroy the world around us.
It is no secret that corporations have historically prioritized their profits over the long term wellbeing of our environment. In recent years, legal cases that seek justice for this harm and prevent future tragedy rely on the interpretations of clauses in the Constitution. Specifically, many of these environmental law cases focus on the Property Clause and the Commerce Clause. The former, located in Article 4, gives Congress the power to regulate territory that belongs to the United States. This clause allows for national parks and protects natural spaces from development. Meanwhile, the Commerce Clause in Article 1 gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states. As is often the case, environmental harm often crosses state boundaries. This clause gives our legislative body the power to intervene in those situations and create rules that prevent harm to the environment. These clauses, among others, allow for the protection of our planet; we need these protections more than ever.
Unless drastic change is implemented, Earth is headed towards environmental catastrophe. The recent UN Climate Report demonstrated that humans are to blame for the extent of the damage. The effects can be seen in the frequency of fires in California, the intensity of hurricanes that reach land on the east coast, and the dying marine life on our nation’s shores. We must take steps to reduce the negative human impact on the environment. However, corporations whose leadership are wealthy enough to escape the results of climate change care most about their bottomline.
In the event of an Article V Convention, these wealthy interests will undoubtedly try to include provisions that serve their goals to the detriment of the natural world. Language in the Constitution could be modified or removed altogether. The Constitution protects the country in order to protect its inhabitants, and we cannot allow this to be undermined by corporations.
The future of our country and the environment at large depend on our Constitution; a Convention that will irrevocably change it would be an incredible mistake.
History of Article V in Illinois
Discussion of an Article V Constitutional convention has existed for many years, particularly within Conservative circles. Additionally, over the course of America’s history, states have called for a Constitutional convention at different times and for varying reasons. A new legal theory argues that by using sometimes outdated calls by certain states for an Article V convention, there is a claim that the number of applications needed to hold a convention has already been met. One of these states is Illinois.
Leading up to the Civil War, Illinois passed an application for a Constitutional convention with the intent of avoiding war. The conditions under which the elected officials during that time were quite different than now. However, Conservative legal scholars argue that because an Article V application has no technical expiration date, this one from 1861 can count towards the 34 needed to call a convention. These scholars also point to an application in 1903 regarding the direct election of senators. Of course, this argument is absurd.
Clearly, a call for an Article V convention from nearly two-centuries ago does not reflect the will of Illinoisians today. It is a distortion of our democratic process to cobble together the supermajority of states needed to justify a convention. That is why we must take as many precautions as possible and rescind the Article V applications that still exist in Illinois.
We cannot risk our Constitutional rights and the wellbeing of our nation with a convention. Now is the time to ask our representatives in the Illinois General Assembly to support the rescission of all outstanding applications for an Article V convention — our democracy depends on it.