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The Republican Right is Gunning for the Constitution (Part 2)

For decades Republicans on the right have been pushing for a constitutional convention. Now they are making their move.

But what does it mean?


A runaway convention is almost guaranteed. Nothing in the Constitution prevents a constitutional convention from expanding in scope to issues not raised in the convention call. Abortion, same-sex marriage, and civil rights come to mind.


It is also clear that special interests will set the agenda. We see it now in our courts, in our legislatures, and at the ballot box. The wealthiest will re-write the rules of our system of governance that protect their interests but not ours.


A balanced budget amendment would transform far-right fiscal austerity agenda into a constitutional mandate. A first step will be abolishing the federal income tax and limiting congress’ ability to raise taxes.


Funding for state education, law enforcement, and infrastructure would be solely up to the states with no support from the federal government. Poor states (mostly red and in the south) will be devastated.


Disaster assistance and social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare will disappear overnight leaving hundreds of millions of Americans at risk.


Limiting the jurisdiction of the federal legislative, executive, or judicial branches would dismantle modern governance and legal protections for all Americans. Environmental regulations, consumer protections, health care standards, food and drug safety would all be in jeopardy.


Where do we go from here?


Right-wing Republicans default to changing the rules when they can’t get what they want through the normal legislative process. This includes changing the constitution.


Democratic and Republican legislators alike have opposed calls for a new convention due to the threat it poses to Americans’ civil rights and liberties.


Even arch-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia was against a constitutional convention saying “I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it?”[1]


While states can ratify a call for a constitutional convention, only Congress has the power to “call a convention.” Two-thirds of both Houses are required to propose Constitutional Amendments or call a constitutional convention.


Only strong governing majorities of Democrats can keep the far right in check. Electing Democratic and progressive candidates to establish legislative majorities at federal, state, and local levels is the first step in protecting our Constitution.


Maintaining those majorities and governing in a responsible manner that treats all American with the respect they deserve is key to protecting our Constitutional liberties in the long run.


There will be the inevitable ups and downs through various election cycles. But maintaining focus and commitment to our Constitutional values is an enduring struggle that we cannot afford to lose.



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