Step Away from the Convention!

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  • Jennifer Bevan Dangel
Resolution Would Rescind Maryland’s Calls for a Constitutional Convention

Annapolis, MD – The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee today heard SJ5, a Resolution to rescind Maryland’s existing calls for a federal Constitutional Convention. The sponsor and advocates supporting the bill discussed the importance of Maryland acting – and acting now.

As the sponsor, Senator Madaleno, explained, “Maryland has four current requests in the Congressional Federal Register, dating as far back as 1939. These calls open the door to unprecedented constitutional mayhem. We should not be bound to requests by previous generations of legislators.”

The legislation has been introduced in the House by Delegate Frick. “This resolution is a common-sense but necessary act of constitutional clean-up.  These anachronistic calls for convention should not be left open indefinitely, leaving open the prospect of convening convoluted and counterproductive conventions.”

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland, stated, “Several constitutional scholars, including both Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, have weighed in on the perils of a constitutional convention. There are no rules on what would happen if and when a convention is called: no rules on how delegates are chosen, how voting occurs at the convention, how money can be spent to choose and influence delegates, or how the convention would operate. Efforts over the summer to bring state leaders together to determine how a convention would operate have resulted in absolute chaos – the convention itself could only be worse.”

Many scholars have argued that any existing constitutional right and protection could be up for consideration and revision by a convention. This includes constitutional protections for civil rights, civil liberties, voting rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and privacy, among others. The role of the courts in protecting the constitutional rights of individuals and minority interests would also be up for consideration and revision.

Opposing a constitutional convention is not a partisan issue. Conservative groups, right-leaning scholars, and Republican legislators across the country are on the record opposing a convention as dangerous due to the inability to control the process or outcomes.

The legislation is supported by a coalition of groups including Common Cause Maryland, the Maryland Center on Economic Policy, AFSCME, MSEA, Progressive Maryland, SEIU, AFL-CIO, Democracy 21 and SiX.

The House Resolution, HJ6, has been assigned to the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.