Republicans in the State Legislature are joining a nationwide effort to push for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. There is a public hearing on the issue at 10 a.m. tomorrow (March 28) in Madison.
So far, 28 states have asked for a convention; 34 are needed. The convention would be called specifically to require the federal government to have a balanced budget, but scholars on both ends of the political spectrum believe a convention can't really be controlled. Amending the Constitution through a convention puts fundamental American rights at risk.
Legislative supporters of a convention include State Senators Chris Kapenga, David Craig, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, Frank Lasee, Howard Marklein, Stephen Nass, Luther Olsen, Duey Stroebel, Patrick Testin, Thomas Tiffany, and Leah Vukmir; and State Reps. Daniel Knodl, Kathleen Bernier, Tyler August, Mark Born, Edward Brooks, Cindi Duchow, Mary Felzkowski, Cody Horlacher, Rob Hutton, Adam Jarchow, Terry Katsma, Samantha Kerkman, Joel Kleefisch, Dale Kooyenga, Jesse Kremer, Scott Krug, Mike Kuglitsch, Bob Kulp, John Macco, Jeffrey Mursau, Adam Neylon, John Nygren, Kevin Petersen, Warren Petryk, Jessie Rodriguez, Mike Rohrkaste, Joe Sanfelippo, Michael Schraa, Ken Skowronski, Patrick Snyder, John Spiros, David Steffen, Jim Steineke, Rob Summerfield, Rob Swearingen, Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Paul Tittl, Robin Vos, Thomas Weatherston and Chuck Wichgers.
The Wisconsin Justice Initiative issued a statement today on why Wisconsin should say "no" to a constitutional convention, which is below.
State legislators should reject efforts to convene a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution, an extremely dangerous step that could endanger basic American rights,
Constitutional changes proposed through a convention are likely to be harmful reactions to the current political divisions in the country that will only divide the country further.
Resolutions calling for a constitutional convention are pending in the State Assembly and State Senate. The Senate’s Committee on Financial Services, Constitution and Federalism and the Assembly Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations will hold a hearing on the issue at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the State Capitol.
The proposed legislation specifically calls for the convention to consider a balanced budget amendment but a State Legislature cannot control what happens or what is considered at a convention.
Some 28 states already have approved legislation calling for a convention. Convention proponents need 34.
The Wisconsin legislation calls for any delegate who votes for an unauthorized amendment to be replaced, but it’s unclear what impact that would have, if any. Replacement would occur only after a vote is cast, when it is too late to undo any damage.
It is also unclear whether convention rules would allow delegate replacements because the rules don’t exist yet. We don’t even know how much representation Wisconsin would have.
Scholars from across the spectrum agree that a convention, once convened, is a force unto itself. People who value freedom of speech and freedom of religion should be concerned about what could happen; those who value their Second Amendment rights should be just as worried.
We don’t need a constitutional convention, First, a balanced budget amendment could cripple the country’s ability to respond to a national emergency. Second, opening the Constitution to change now would invite mischief and disaster.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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