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Mar 20, 2017 07:03PM
OMG can you say bye-bye Emoluments Clause? RESIST!!
Flynn: Wisconsin legislators put constitutional rights at risk
A constitutional convention is unlikely to call it quits after a single amendment when there is nothing to stop it.
Karen Hobert Flynn, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Opinion), March 20, 2017
A well-funded national campaign to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to the benefit of wealthy special interests has found its way into the Wisconsin legislature. Over the last few weeks, Wisconsin Republicans have jumped on the bandwagon to push for a dangerous new constitutional convention. The proposal (Senate Joint Resolution 18 introduced last Thursday) would add Wisconsin to an alarming and growing number of states calling for a constitutional convention to impose a federal balanced budget amendment. But a constitutional convention, if unleashed, is unlikely to call it quits after a single amendment when there is nothing stopping it from making an unlimited number of changes to our nation's founding document.
Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, two-third of state legislatures (34) can pass applications to call a constitutional convention to propose amendments. Throughout the Constitution's 226-year history, this process has never been used. Yet, 28 states have now called for an Article V convention to add a balanced budget amendment. That means Article V advocates are just six states away from reaching their goal.
The secretive big money groups behind the call for an Article V convention are counting on Wisconsin to help them reach their goal.
Several of these organizations have close financial ties to the billionaire mega-donor Koch brothers. Gov. Scott Walker is also known for his close relationship with the Kochs' donor network, which is why it's not surprising that Walker endorsed the idea of call an Article V convention a few months ago. The bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Chris Kapenga, is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive corporate lobbying group funded by the Koch brothers that has been pushing Article V legislation across the country.
A constitutional convention is dangerous process with all kinds of pitfalls. Perhaps the most dangerous is the threat of a runaway convention.
The Constitution says very little about an Article V convention, meaning there are no prescribed rules.
Therefore, there is nothing to prevent a convention from being expanded to issues not raised in the original petitions calling the convention. That means everyone's constitutional rights and civil liberties could be up for grabs. Freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and freedom of the press could be on the chopping block, not to mention possible changes to health care access, immigration, marriage equality or voting rights.
Another major concern is how delegates would be chosen. In a time of extreme partisan gerrymandering and with the lack of convention rules in the Constitution, there is nothing to guarantee that every American would be equally represented in a new constitutional convention. In fact, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, one of the pieces of legislation currently being considered by the Wisconsin legislature would allow only the governor, Assembly speaker, and Senate president to appoint all of Wisconsin's delegates to the convention. All of those positions are currently held by Republicans, leaving open the possibility that not all Wisconsinites would be represented in a convention.
There is no question that our government needs to be reformed. Partisan gridlock and big money in politics have blocked congressional action on important issues and silenced the voices of the majority of voters who want government to function correctly. But an Article V constitutional convention won't solve those problems. Instead, it would only make them worse. In the end, a convention would simply lead to chaos, not a better democracy because it is those with the deepest pockets who are most likely to prevail.
Wisconsin legislators must reject any call for an Article V convention in order to protect our Constitution and by extension our democracy. Otherwise, we may well be facing a constitutional crisis where everyone's rights and liberties are on the auction block.
Karen Hobert Flynn is president of Common Cause.
6,464.25 miles walked ~ Find your calm. Move forward from this place.
12/22/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 1/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-