By Robert Reich
The biggest threat to our democracy that nobody is talking about is the real possibility of a rogue Constitutional convention – empowering extremists to radically reshape the Constitution, our laws, and our country.
If just a few more states sign on to what’s called an “Article V convention” for a balanced budget amendment, there’s no limit to the damage they might do.
Let me explain.
There are 2 ways to amend the United States Constitution: One way – the way we’ve passed every amendment since the Bill of Rights – is for two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to vote for a proposed amendment, and then have it ratified by at least three quarters of the states – now 38 in number.
But there’s a second way to amend the Constitution. Two thirds of the states may demand that Congress form a constitutional convention to propose amendments.
Once such a constitutional convention is convened, there are no rules to limit or constrain what comes next.
Amendments proposed by an Article V convention are supposed to be ratified by 38 states. But convention delegates could hijack the process and change the ratification process itself, tossing out the 38 state requirement.
A balanced budget amendment would be crazy enough. But nothing would be safe. A woman’s right to choose. Marriage equality. First Amendment protections for free speech and a free press. Equal protection of the laws. Checks and balances.
An Article V convention would allow delegates to write their own agenda into our Constitution.
Already 28 states have called for a constitutional convention. They only need 6 more to succeed.
Unlimited money in politics and partisan gerrymandering have already given Republicans control of a majority of state legislatures. Big money interests like the Koch Brothers and ALEC are investing heavily in the push for a constitutional convention – which means that they’d be calling the shots if one takes place.
You’re probably already overwhelmed with political actions you need to take. But, believe me, this is important. With just a few states to go, your voice is needed. Please tell your state lawmakers to reject calls for an Article V convention.