Action Alert

Quell the con-con!

Tell state Assembly to halt calls for a constitutional convention

Wisconsin may bring the country one step closer to a constitutional convention, which deeply distresses the Freedom From Religion Foundation. We need to tell the state Assembly to oppose calls for bringing the nation one step closer to an unprecedented threat to our republic.
Today, June 14, the Wisconsin Assembly plans to consider Assembly Joint Resolution 21, which proposes a convention to amend our Constitution in order for a balanced budget. FFRF is concerned that any call for a constitutional convention, even one supposedly limited in scope, would necessarily open up our Constitution to far-reaching amendments to any number of our cherished rights, including the separation of religion and government.
It’s best to leave our Constitution, the spine of American democracy, alone. Please reach out to your state representative now and tell him or her to oppose this reckless proposal. 


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(Keep reading if you wish to learn more about the constitutional convention.)


There are two basic ways to propose amendments to the Constitution. First, two-thirds of each house of Congress can vote for the proposed amendments. This is the only way our Constitution has ever been amended. The other way, which has never been used, is for two-thirds of the state legislatures to call for a convention to propose amendments. Then that convention would propose amendments. In either case, the proposed amendments would require three-quarters of the states to ratify them to become part of the Constitution.
It is this second, unused method that Wisconsin is set to vote on. 
Because it is untested, there is considerable debate and argument about how the process is governed. For instance, Wisconsin is set to vote on proposing an amendment for a balanced budget. But it is not clear that any constitutional convention would be so limited in the amendments it could propose. Such a convention could easily morph into a runaway convention imperiling the foundational document of the United States — today at 230 years the longest-lived constitution in the world. As Georgetown University law professor David Super has noted, "A constitutional convention is the last thing America needs."
For instance, once the convention is convened, it might be able to propose amendments dealing with the right to choose an abortion or the free exercise of religion. The current push to redefine religious freedom, which culminated in the Hobby Lobby decision, has been using legislation to do so. But if we open the Constitution to amendments, what’s to stop the Religious Right from removing the hallowed separation of state and church?
State legislatures will be the central players. Thirty-two state legislatures are Republican controlled. That means with two defections, perhaps from one of the seven states with Republican governors but Democratic legislatures, and the Constitution is changed. 
Also today, the Wisconsin Assembly is considering a Joint Resolution 20, which would declare Wisconsin’s support for the rules for a constitutional convention proposed by the so-called Assembly of State Legislatures. Perversely, these rules begin with a preamble that declares the delegates are “grateful to Almighty God,” leaving little hope that this group prioritizes the preservation of state / church separation. 
Furthermore, the State Assembly is also poised to consider AB 165 today, which would establish that in the event of a constitutional convention, Wisconsin’s delegates would be chosen solely by the majority party in the Assembly and Senate, plus the Governor. Not coincidentally, Republicans currently control all three.

Read more

Wisconsin closer to calling for constitutional convention

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