Coalition Statement Opposing An Article V Convention

Coalition Statement Opposing An Article V Convention

Calling a new constitutional convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution is a threat to every American’s constitutional rights and civil liberties.

Coalition Statement

Constitutional Rights and Public Interest Groups Oppose Calls for an Article V Constitutional Convention

Plans to convene a new constitutional convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution are a threat to every American’s constitutional rights and civil liberties.

Article V convention proponents and wealthy special interest groups are dangerously close to forcing the calling of a constitutional convention to enact a federal balanced budget amendment (BBA). This would be the first constitutional convention since the original convention in 1787 — all constitutional amendments since then have been passed first by Congress and then approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures. There are no rules and guidelines in the U.S. Constitution on how a convention would work, which creates an opportunity for a runaway convention that could rewrite any constitutional right or protection currently available to American citizens.

Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, a convention can be called when two-thirds of the states (34) petition for a convention to enact amendments to the constitution. States can also rescind their calls by a vote in the state legislature. Just a few states short of reaching the constitutionally-required 34 states to call a convention, Article V and BBA advocates have recently increased their efforts to call a new convention.

An Article V convention is a dangerous threat to the U.S. Constitution, our democracy, and our civil rights and liberties. There is no language in the U.S. Constitution to limit a convention to one issue and there is reason to fear that once called, a convention will be able to consider any amendments that the delegates want to consider. There also are no guidelines or rules to govern a convention. Due to the lack of provisions in the Constitution and the lack of historical precedent, it is unknown how delegates to a convention would be chosen, what rules would be in place, what would happen in case of legal disputes, what issues would be raised, how the American people would be represented, and how to limit the influence of special interests in a convention.

Because there is no way to limit a convention’s focus, any constitutional provision could be brought up for revision by a convention. This includes civil rights and civil liberties, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, privacy rights, the guarantee of equal protection under law, the right to vote, immigration issues, and the right to counsel and a jury trial, among others. Basic separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers would be subject to revision as well. A convention might not preserve the role of the courts in protecting our constitutional rights.  Even the supremacy of federal law and the Constitution over state laws could be called into doubt.

A 2016 USA Today editorial correctly stated that calling for a constitutional convention is “an invitation to constitutional mayhem” and “could further poison our politics and hobble American leaders at moments of crisis.” Legal scholars across the political spectrum agree. One of the nation’s most esteemed constitutional law scholars, Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, has said a constitutional convention would put “the whole Constitution up for grabs.”

Georgetown University Law professor David Super has written that “a constitutional convention would circumvent one of the proudest democratic advances of the last century in America: one-person, one-vote. Without a precedent, no one really knows how a convention would unfold, but proponents predict that each state would have an equal vote in whatever they got up to.”

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger shared similar concerns, writing, “[T]here is no way to effectively limit or muzzle the actions of a constitutional convention. The convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the convention would obey.”

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia also warned of the dangers of a constitutional convention. “I certainly would not want a constitutional convention.  Whoa!  Who knows what would come out of it?,” Scalia said in 2014.

The undersigned organizations strongly urge state legislatures to oppose efforts to pass a resolution to call for a constitutional convention. We also strongly urge state legislatures to rescind any application for an Article V constitutional convention in order to protect all Americans’ constitutional rights and privileges from being put at risk and up for grabs.

 

National organizations:

  • African American Health Alliance
  • African American Ministers In Action
  • AFSCME Retirees
  • Alliance for Justice
  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO)
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
  • Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote
  • Bend the Arc Jewish Action
  • Brennan Center for Justice
  • Campaign Legal Center
  • Center for American Progress
  • Center for Community Change
  • Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
  • Center for Media and Democracy
  • Center for Medicare Advocacy
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Children’s Defense Fund
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
  • Coalition on Human Needs
  • Common Cause
  • Communications Workers of America (CWA)
  • Community Advocates Public Policy Institute
  • Daily Kos
  • Democracy 21
  • Democracy For America
  • Dream Defenders
  • Earthjustice
  • Eclectablog
  • Economic Policy Institute
  • EMILY’s List
  • Every Voice
  • Fair Elections Legal Network
  • Faith in Public Life
  • Family Values at Work
  • Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
  • Franciscan Action Network
  • Greenpeace USA
  • International Association of Fire Fighters
  • Jobs With Justice
  • Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • League of Women Voters of the United States
  • Main Street Alliance
  • Mi Familia Vota
  • NAACP
  • National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
  • National Council of Jewish Women
  • National Council of La Raza Action Fund
  • National Disability Institute
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • National Employment Law Project (NELP)
  • National Fair Housing Alliance
  • National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
  • National Partnership for Women & Families
  • National WIC Association
  • National Women’s Law Center
  • People Demanding Action
  • People For the American Way
  • ProgressNow
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • Sierra Club
  • Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Congregational Leadership
  • Social Security Works
  • State Innovation Exchange
  • The Arc of the United States
  • The Forum for Youth Investment
  • The Public Interest
  • The Voting Rights Institute
  • UNITE HERE
  • United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)
  • Voice for Adoption
  • VoteVets Action Fund
  • Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund
  • Working America

 

State and local organizations:

Alabama

  • Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama

 

Alaska

  • Alaska AFL-CIO

 

Arkansas

  • OMNI Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology

 

Arizona

  • AFSCME 2960
  • AFSCME Retirees Chapter 97
  • Arizona Advocacy Network
  • Phoenix Day
  • Southwest Fair Housing Council

 

California

  • California Common Cause
  • City of Chino Housing Division
  • Courage Campaign
  • Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California

 

Colorado

  • ACLU of Colorado
  • America Votes Colorado
  • Colorado AFL-CIO
  • Colorado Common Cause
  • Colorado Ethics Watch
  • Colorado Fiscal Institute
  • Colorado People’s Alliance
  • Colorado Sierra Club
  • Colorado WINS
  • New Era Colorado
  • League of Women Voters of Colorado
  • Progress Colorado
  • SEIU Colorado

 

Connecticut

  • Common Cause Connecticut
  • Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Inc.
  • Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
  • Holy Family Home and Shelter, Inc

 

Delaware

  • Common Cause Delaware

 

Florida

  • Common Cause Florida
  • Faith in Florida
  • Florida Consumer Action Network
  • Progress Florida

 

Georgia

  • Common Cause Georgia

 

Hawaii

  • Americans for Democratic Action Hawaii
  • Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action
  • Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice
  • Hawaii Government Employees Association
  • Common Cause Hawaii
  • League of Women Voters of Hawaii
  • League of Women Voters of Honolulu
  • League of Women Voters Hawaii Island
  • Life of the Land

 

Idaho

  • ACLU of Idaho
  • Better Idaho
  • Idaho AFL-CIO

 

Illinois

  • Common Cause Illinois
  • Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry
  • Project IRENE

 

Indiana

  • Common Cause Indiana
  • Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana

 

Iowa

  • AFSCME Iowa Council 61
  • Congregation of the Humility of Mary
  • Iowa AFL-CIO

 

Kansas

  • Kansas AFL-CIO

 

Kentucky

  • Common Cause Kentucky
  • Kentucky AFL-CIO

 

Louisiana

  • Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center

 

Maine

  • Disability Rights Maine
  • Maine AFL-CIO

 

Maryland

  • ACE-AFSCME Local 2250
  • AFSCME Council 3
  • AFSCME Council 67
  • Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc.
  • Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore
  • Common Cause Maryland
  • Disability Rights Maryland
  • Maryland Center on Economic Policy
  • Public Justice Center
  • The Xaverian Brothers

 

Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts AFL-CIO

 

Michigan

  • Common Cause Michigan
  • Fair Housing Center of West Michigan
  • Progress Michigan

 

Minnesota

  • Alliance of Chicanos, Hispanics and Latin Americans (Rochester, MN)
  • Common Cause Minnesota
  • Indivisible Minnesota Local
  • League of Women Voters of Minnesota
  • Minnesota AFL-CIO
  • Minnesota Citizens for Clean Elections
  • TakeAction Minnesota
  • Women & Advocates Minnesota

 

Mississippi

  • Mississippi AFL-CIO

 

Missouri

  • Vision for Children at Risk

 

Montana

  • Montana AFL-CIO

 

Nebraska

  • Common Cause Nebraska
  • Nebraskans for Civic Reform

 

New Hampshire

  • New Hampshire AFL-CIO

 

New Jersey

  • CWA Local 1081
  • New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc.
  • Monarch Housing Associates

 

New Mexico

  • ACLU of New Mexico
  • AFSCME Council 18
  • Common Cause New Mexico
  • League of Women Voters of New Mexico
  • New Mexico Hospital Workers Union (1199NM)

 

New York

  • CNY Fair Housing, Inc
  • Common Cause New York
  • Disabled in Action of Greater Syracuse Inc.
  • Long Island Housing Services, Inc.
  • Schenectady Inner City Ministry
  • Solidarity Committee of the Capital District

 

Nevada

  • AFSCME 4041
  • Culinary Union

 

North Carolina

  • Common Cause North Carolina
  • Disability Rights North Carolina
  • Independent Living Resources (Durham, NC)

 

North Dakota

  • North Dakota AFL-CIO

 

Ohio

  • Cleveland Nonviolence Network
  • Common Cause Ohio
  • Equality Ohio
  • Ohio Voice
  • ProgressOhio
  • Toledo Fair Housing Center
  • Toledo Area Jobs with Justice

 

Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma AFL-CIO
  • Oklahoma Policy Institute

 

Oregon

  • Common Cause Oregon
  • Disability Rights Oregon

 

Pennsylvania

  • Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh
  • Common Cause Pennsylvania
  • Community at Holy Family Manor (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Just Harvest (Pittsburgh, PA)

 

Rhode Island

  • Common Cause Rhode Island

 

South Carolina

  • South Carolina AFL-CIO

 

South Dakota

  • South Dakota AFL-CIO

 

Tennessee

  • Nashville CARES

 

Texas

  • Clean Elections Texas
  • Common Cause Texas
  • Harlingen Community Development Corporation

 

Utah

  • Tabitha’s Way

 

Vermont

  • Downstreet Housing & Community Development
  • P.S., A Partnership

 

Virginia

  • The Commonwealth Institute
  • Virginia AFL-CIO
  • Virginia Civic Engagement Table

 

Washington

  • Conscious Talk Radio
  • Washington AFL-CIO
  • Washington Community Action Network
  • Fuse Washington

 

Wisconsin

  • Access to Independence, Inc. (Madison, WI)
  • AFSCME Council 32
  • AFSCME Retirees Chapter 32
  • Citizen Action of Wisconsin
  • Common Cause Wisconsin
  • End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin
  • Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools
  • Independence First
  • League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
  • Madison-area Urban Ministry
  • Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council
  • Midstate Independent Living Consultants
  • One Wisconsin Now
  • Options for Independent Living Inc.(Green Bay, WI)
  • School Sisters of Saint Francis (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Survival Coalition of Disability Organization of Wisconsin
  • The Arc Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin AFL-CIO
  • Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network
  • Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers,
  • Wisconsin Community Action Program Association
  • Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
  • Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
  • Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
  • Wisconsin Voices
  • National Association of Social Workers, WI Chapter
  • Dominicans of Sinsinawa – Leadership Council

 

West Virginia

  • West Virginia Citizen Action Group

 

Wyoming

  • Wyoming AFL-CIO

 

This statement was released in April 2017 and the list of signers was updated in February 2018.