New Mexico Legislature Rescinds Call for Dangerous Constitutional Convention in the Face of Nationwide Special Interests Push

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  • david vance, viki harrison

Today the New Mexico Legislature rescinded its calls for an Article V constitutional convention that were originally passed in 1951, 1965, and 1976.  The state lawmakers recognized the threat of a “runaway convention” which could result in major changes to the U.S. Constitution and its protections in a process bankrolled by special interests. A nationwide push has the well-funded advocates fast approaching a successful call for an Article V constitutional convention. The New Mexico legislature has taken a key step back from the precipice to safeguard our constitutional liberties and civil rights by rescinding its call for an Article V convention.

“The New Mexico legislature’s actions are extremely important in protecting our constitution and every Americans’ basic rights from deep-pocketed special interests seeking to rewrite the Constitution to their own advantage,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “An Article V convention is one of the most dangerous threats facing our nation, and other states need to look at New Mexico’s leadership and rescind their calls. The big money backers of the Article V push have not been shy about pushing legislation nationwide that benefit their business interest, through vehicles like ALEC.”  

“Common Cause New Mexico thanks Speaker Brian Egolf and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth for understanding the threat and leading this important charge to safeguard the Constitution and its protections for all citizens,” said Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico. “We are proud of New Mexico’s leadership for their diligent work to rescind the call for a constitutional convention and protect the Constitution of the United States from the whims of special interests.” Common Cause New Mexico also thanks its state partners who helped lead this effort, including New Mexico Voices for Children, the ACLU of New Mexico, AFSCME, NEA-New Mexico, Somos un Pueblo Unido, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, AFT New Mexico, and the New Mexico Federation of Labor. 

Even with New Mexico’s rescission, Article V and Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) proponents claim to be just six states away from reaching the constitutionally required 34 states to call a convention. Article V proponents are still closer than ever before to reaching the constitutional threshold. Republicans now control eight of the 21 state legislatures that do not have an existing application for a convention for a BBA: Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Virginia, and South Carolina. In 2016, Delaware successfully rescinded their resolution, although Article V resolutions were passed in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Earlier this year Wyoming passed an Article V resolution.

Although activists on the left have called for conventions and there is bipartisan opposition to an Article V convention, the push for a convention to impose a balanced budget amendment is being led by Republican legislators and conservative special interest groups, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate lobby that masquerades as a charity to provide its corporate backers with a tax break. Despite claims by ALEC and other convention proponents, most legal scholars agree that a convention cannot be limited to one issue. With no rules governing a convention, a runaway convention would likely result.

A Common Cause report documenting the push for a constitutional convention, along with fact sheets outlining the dangers of both a constitutional convention and a federal balanced budget amendment is available at Common Cause also recently released a background memo on the topic, U.S. Constitution Threatened as Article V Convention Movement Nears Success.