Assembly Republicans back constitutional convention

The Constitution of the United States
The Constitution of the United States

MADISON- Republican members of the Assembly voted on Wednesday to call for a constitutional convention. This convention would be called for the specific purpose of adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A convention like this, described in Article V of the Constitution, has never been called in United States history, and could open up unprecedented revisions to the Constitution.

The constitutional convention that the Republicans have called for is especially foolish when one considers what a constitutional convention actually means. A convention would, in theory, allow any amendments to be proposed and considered. There is very little agreement on what a convention of states would look like, and it is entirely possible that much of the Constitution would suddenly be on the table for revision by delegates appointed by state legislatures.

Considering that most state legislatures are controlled by the Republican party, this would amount to a single political coalition being given wholesale revision power over our most fundamental governing document.

Shawn Johnson at Wisconsin Public Radio reports:

Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly voted on Wednesday to join a growing list of states calling for a national convention to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

It would be the first time the process known as the “convention of states” had been used to amend the U.S. Constitution since its ratification in 1787. The legislation would still need to pass the state Senate and a total of 34 states would need to sign on before a constitutional convention would be called.

Still, by some measures, nearly 30 states have already called for a constitutional convention, making the prospect appear more possible today than it did just a few years ago.

“It truly is our duty,” said state Rep. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, the Assembly sponsor of the balanced budget resolution. “Congress has failed.”

Critics warned that once a convention was called, there would be nothing keeping delegates from pursuing other amendments to the constitution on unrelated issues.

“Let’s not threaten what is the last and greatest and best symbol of democracy and liberty in the world by jeopardizing our U.S. Constitution with a constitutional convention,” said Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine.

Read more at Wisconsin Public Radio.