To Observe Constitution Day, Protect Constitution from Threat of Convention

Monday, September 18, 2017 at 10:05 AM by

Sunday, September 17th was Constitution Day, a holiday that recognizes the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and those who have become citizens. This year, Constitution Day marked the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

The U.S. Constitution has served the country well for more than two centuries, but some Wisconsin state lawmakers want to open the door to wholesale changes to the Constitution, a move that could threaten basic freedoms and liberties.

When the U.S. Constitution has needed amending in the past, Congress and at least three-fourths of the states voted to approve a specific amendment. Now, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and similar groups are pushing an alternate, untested approach to amending the Constitution, which requires two-thirds of state legislatures to approve resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention. Once that threshold is reached, Congress must convene a Constitutional Convention. So far, 27 of the necessary 34 states have passed resolutions, and ALEC is putting enormous pressure on Wisconsin legislators to go along with ALEC’s plan.

The resolutions passed by state legislatures encourage delegates to the Convention to pass a Constitutional amendment requiring a federal balanced budget, but delegates could potentially go far beyond the scope of the resolution to make wide-ranging and radical changes to the Constitution, stripping out basic principles on which our country was founded – and potentially changing the ratification process by which states approve amendments.

Even just sticking to passing a balanced budget amendment would do a great deal of damage on its own, as such an amendment would likely make recessions longer and deeper. A balanced budget requirement would force federal lawmakers to raise taxes, cut spending, or both when the economy is weakest and in need of bolstering through additional public investment.

A proposal to approve a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention is currently under consideration by Wisconsin lawmakers. The state Assembly approved the resolution in February 2017, but as of yet the State Senate has not voted on it. The best-case explanation for the Senate’s inaction is that senators recognize that passing the resolution could risk unintentionally unraveling our nation’s fundamental rights and freedoms. On the other hand, it could easily be true that senators were simply too busy working on the state budget to consider the resolution. With budget deliberations drawing to a close, they may now turn their attention to other matters such as the resolution to call for a Constitutional Convention.

State senators need to hear from their constituents that they should protect the U.S. Constitution by opposing Senate Joint Resolution 18. Add your voice to the chorus of opposition and tell your state lawmakers that we should celebrate the U.S. Constitution, rather than risk re-writing our nation’s governing document:

For more on the dangers of a runaway convention, read States Could Likely Not Control Constitutional Convention on Balanced Budget Amendment or Other Issues, CBPP, Jan 18, 2017.

Tamarine Cornelius

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