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Thwart a Constitutional Convention by Electing Democrats to State Legislatures

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

 

Thwart any plans the Republicans might have to call a Constitutional Convention by helping to elect Democrats to state legislatures–your state’s, and other states. 

 

You know the importance of electing Democrats at all levels–federal, state, and local. You’ve read our blog posts on state-level legislative elections, and you might have done something to help. But there’s another reason to stay alert to state legislative elections, both in your state and in other states, and work to ensure that Democrats get elected.

 

The country can call a Constitutional Convention if two-thirds of the states band together and ask for one. Such a convention would allow its members to amend or even rewrite the Constitution.

 

What’s the problem? In order to call a Constitutional Convention, 34 states would have to  pass bills in their own legislatures to ask for one. A total of 38 states are needed to pass any measures cooked up at the convention.

 

As of mid-2017, 32 states have Republican-controlled legislatures, and 24 of those states have Republican “trifectas”–Republican governors AND a Republican-controlled legislature. Democrats have only six trifectas, and six more legislatures are split.

 

Worse, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank, has been steadily working toward changing the state legislative landscape to open the door to a Constitutional Convention. It’s agitating for a balanced budget amendment–which would prevent Congress from passing a budget that increases the national debt.

To lay it out plainly: If a Constitutional Convention happens anytime soon, it will be dominated by Republican-leaning states, and will almost certainly be dominated by measures that reflect Republican and conservative points of view.

 

They could write amendments that bans gay marriage, or abortion. They could augment the second amendment in a dangerous way. Heck, they could rewrite the first amendment to curtail protests. They could get up to all sorts of nasty shenanigans. That’s not to say their amendments will convince 38 states to vote in favor, but still.

 

You can thwart this in many ways.

 

First, learn which party, if any, controls your state legislature, and assess the strength or weakness of the party’s control.

 

If your state is controlled by Democrats, learn how to strengthen the party’s control by increasing their numbers. This might mean spending time or money on electing, re-electing, and defending state candidates who need your help.

 

If your state splits control between the parties, see what you can do to broaden and boost Democratic control. Again, this might mean spending time or money on electing, re-electing, and defending state candidates who need your help.

 

If your state is controlled by Republicans, you will want to commit time and money to increasing the number of Democrats, especially if your state has a Republican trifecta.

 

If you want to help affect legislatures beyond your state, target states with Republican trifectas and do your damnedest to break them.

 

 

Learn about upcoming state elections through Flippable:

https://www.flippable.org

 

 

 

Read about Constitutional Conventions, the modern pro-convention movement, and what’s at stake:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/10/21/a-constitutional-convention-could-be-the-single-most-dangerous-way-to-fix-american-government/?utm_term=.5eaf6cce9a8e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/were-surprisingly-close-to-a-new-constitutional-convention-bad-idea/2017/04/06/f6d5b76a-197d-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html?utm_term=.bbdac53be324

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/01/_liberals_and_conservatives_are_teaming_up_to_call_a_new_constitutional.html

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wisconsin/articles/2017-05-31/republicans-push-constitutional-convention-measures-forward

http://wuwm.com/post/wisconsin-could-become-30th-state-demand-constitutional-convention#stream/0

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Check this Wikipedia page to see which party, if any, controls your state legislature:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_state_legislatures

 

 

Read about how Republicans now control many state legislatures:

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/after-winning-7-more-seats-gop-dominance-state-legislatures-all

 

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Learn How To Get Your State to Rescind A Resolution Calling for a Constitutional Convention

Learn how to get your state to rescind a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention.

 

A cadre of right-wing folks have been agitating for years to call a new Constitutional Convention (also known as a “Con Con”) with the notion of reshaping the U.S. Constitution. They want to pass a balanced budget amendment, evidently to curtail spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

 

See OTYCD‘s past post on how to thwart a Constitutional Convention:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/03/24/thwart-a-constitutional-convention-by-electing-democrats-to-state-legislatures/

 

A minimum of 34 states are required to call a convention, and anything hatched at the convention would need 38 states to pass.

 

Set aside the fact that a Constitutional Convention would bring a heap of chaos–the Constitution does not lay out any procedural rules, and Article V, the part of the Constitution that allows conventions, has never been invoked before.

 

The fact remains that the push for a Constitutional Convention is a right-wing hobby horse, pursued by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other dubious folk.

 

Working to elect Democratic state legislators helps thwart these plans, as we note in the previous post. But there is another step that should be taken.

 

A state that assents to a Constitutional Convention is not locked in. It can rescind its resolution agreeing to the Con Con.

 

Some states have rescinded. In 2017, Nevada, Maryland, and New Mexico all did so.

 

If your state has passed a resolution calling for a Con Con, you can petition your legislature to rescind it.

 

A pro-Con Con group, COS Action, tracks its progress with a map. Yellow states have passed the bill in one chamber. Green states have passed the bill outright. Blue states are those where the bill is “active legislation.” White states are inactive–they have not passed Con Con legislation and don’t appear to be targeted for legislation.

See the map by scrolling down to the header ‘So, Are You Making Any Progress?’ and click on the progress map button:

https://conventionofstates.com

 

 

If you don’t know who your state house rep and state senator are, go to the link below and plug in your address and zip code to get their names:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

 

Is your state colored green on the map? Are your state legislative representatives open to sponsoring a bill to rescind a call for a Con Con? If so, ask them to get to work, and check in on them periodically to make sure they’re on it.

 

If your own state legislators would favor this move, do some research and see if there are other legislators in your state who would support it. Recruit friends in that part of the state and ask them to ask their reps for this.

 

 

Is your state colored blue on this map? Call your state legislators, say you oppose calling for a Constitutional Convention, and ask them to fight any state bill that calls for one.

 

 

Yellow states are trickier. The COS map indicates that the bill has passed in one state chamber, but does not say which one. In this case, call your state legislators, say you oppose calling for a Constitutional Convention, and say what you know–a pro-convention interest group indicates that one chamber has passed a bill but you’re not sure which one.

 

Ask for help finding out which state chamber passed the bill. When you have that information, you can take the next step. If the bill passed in the house and is now in the senate, ask your state house rep to prepare a bill to rescind, and ask your state senator to vote no on any state senate counterpart that might be live. If it’s the other way around, act accordingly.

 

And as stated before, continue to work to elect state-level representatives who aren’t on board with a Con Con. In general, that means voting for Democrats, sane Republicans, and sane Independents.

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Read a November 2017 backgrounder on the Con Con from the CBS website:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/will-there-be-a-new-constitutional-convention/

 

 

Read an August 2017 piece from the Bill Moyers site on the right-wing push for a Con Con, led by ALEC:

http://billmoyers.com/story/alec-constitutional-convention/

 

 

Read a May 2017 story from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) website on states that rescinded their calls for a Con Con:

https://www.cbpp.org/blog/nevada-joins-maryland-new-mexico-in-rescinding-calls-for-a-constitutional-convention

 

 

See the language of Nevada’s 2017 state bill rescinding its call for a Con Con:

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/79th2017/Bills/SJR/SJR10.pdf