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 Center

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

ProgressNow 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

9to5 Georgia Chapter

Black Voters Matter Fund

Common Cause Georgia

Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda

Georgia STAND-UP

League of Women Voters of Georgia

Partnership for Southern Equity

 

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

Jefferson County Teachers’ Association

Kentucky AFL-CIO

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

UFCW Local 227

 

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

League of Women Voters of 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

Common Cause 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

AFSCME Nevada Retirees

Battle Born Progress

Culinary Workers’ Union Local 226

Let Nevadans Vote coalition

Nevada AFL-CIO

Nevada Conservation League

Nevada State Education Association (NSEA)

SEIU Nevada 1107

 

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

Common Cause 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 March 2019