Idaho Republicans are falling in line with a well-funded, out-of-state conservative effort to call an Article V convention to open up the U.S. Constitution for revisions, also known as a Constitutional Convention, also known as a cluster#&%! of an idea.
In case you aren’t a constitutional lawyer and don’t remember exactly what an Article V convention is, or have never heard of it in your life, here’s some background:
Article V of the U.S. Constitution lists two ways in which the document can be changed. 1) Two-thirds of both houses of Congress can vote to present an amendment(s) to the states, or 2) legislatures from two-thirds of the states can petition Congress to call “call a convention for proposing amendments”. This wording is key because proponents bait and switch by saying their bill is an ‘amendments convention’ or a ‘convention of states.’ Both of these variations invoke Article V, and are therefore the same as a Constitutional convention. The proposed amendments have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states, though there is no guarantee that the ratification procedure itself would remain intact in a convention. There is also no guidance in Article V on how voting would take place among the states. If this all seems confusing, here’s an analogy – it would be like removing the cover of your laptop and leaving your three-year old alone with a hammer and screwdriver saying “hey, maybe she can fix it.”
An Article V convention has been called only once: to draft the Constitution itself. While this convention gave us our founding document, convention delegates scrapped their original mandate to propose amendments in order to do so. We are stronger as a nation for that. But, since we don’t exactly have an all star line up of strong leadership coming out of the White House at the moment, we’re thinking, let’s go ahead and skip it.
The Constitution has been amended 27 times. Each time it’s been done via Congress and not a convention. A Constitutional Convention called under Article V has no precedent or oversight and could easily become a “runaway convention.” Delegates could open the entire document to revision. We think it’s a terrible idea on its face but to open and upend the Constitution right now, with our current state of perpetual turmoil nationally, we think it’s extremely reckless and dangerous.
Unfortunately for us, Idaho lawmakers are under intense pressure from special interest groups outside the state to pass a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention.
Last Friday, the Senate State Affairs Committee held a hearing on SCR 108, the resolution which would add Idaho to the list of 28 states calling for a constitutional convention (just 6 more state are needed). The Committee allowed the bill’s sponsor, Senator Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, and several guest speakers, all of whom are on the payroll of outside interest groups, to prattle on for a full hour of testimony before listening to the public.
The two and a half-hour hearing was attended by more than 200 concerned citizens. Despite the public’s input and vehement objections, the committee voted to advance the bill to full Senate. Every single one of the 25 Idahoans who testified opposed this bill. Neat, thanks for listening Senate State Affairs!
After the hearing, Senator Hagedorn told a reporter from the Spokesman-Review that opponents of the bill are “misinformed.” He also said that all the citizen testimony given in the hearing this morning “had nothing to do with this bill.” Alternative facts anyone?
Here’s the vote breakdown:
Votes in favor: Sens. Hagedorn, Hill, Lodge, Lakey and Siddoway.
Votes against: Sens. Davis, Winder, Stennett and Buckner-Webb.
You can also tell your state senator and your state representatives to oppose this misguided proposal by using this email action tool –> http://constitutioncoalition.org/act-today/