Reporter warns far-right Republicans may be close to achieving a 'radical rewrite' of the Constitution
Paul Krugman, liberal economist and long-time columnist for the New York Times, has argued that Republicans have long since ceased to view Democrats as the loyal opposition — and that they don't believe that Democrats even have "the right to govern." Journalist Travis Waldron, in an article published by HuffPost this week, examines the type of changes that far-right Republicans would make to the U.S. Constitution if a constitutional convention were to come about. And according to Waldron, "The project to overhaul the Constitution is much closer to fruition than most people realize."
"Since 2014, the Convention of States Project and other conservative groups, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have helped persuade lawmakers in 15 states to pass resolutions that call for a new constitutional convention," Waldron explains. "Led by a prominent right-wing activist ― former Tea Party Patriots founder Mark Meckler, who is also the current acting CEO of Parler, a social media platform popular on the right ― the Convention of States Project has spread the gospel of a convention to an increasingly radical audience. This year, lawmakers proposed 42 Convention of States resolutions in at least 24 new states, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, which has long monitored the convention push."
Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows a constitutional convention to be called if two-thirds of the states called for one, which means that 34 states would be needed.
Dave Super, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., believes that a constitutional convention is a strong possibility if Republicans perform well in the 2022 midterms.
Super told HuffPost, "I think if (Republicans) win the midterm elections, if they take the House and Senate, they will try to call an Article V convention immediately. It's not a foregone conclusion that the simple Republican majority would get there, but if they get big majorities, I think they'll try."
Some civil libertarians, Waldron warns, fear the type of changes far-right Republicans would make to the U.S. Constitution if a constitutional convention were held.
According to Waldron, "Opponents…. see a far more nefarious plot: a master class in astroturfing that could open the entire document up to a radical rewrite meant to serve the right-wing corporate interests that already dominate our politics, especially at the state level. The convention, they argue, could lead to the demolition of everything from the social safety net and environmental protections to civil rights laws. Or maybe even the Constitution itself."
Both liberals and right-wing libertarians who spoke to HuffPost are worried about what Republicans would do at a constitutional convention.
Jay Riestenberg of the liberal group Common Cause told HuffPost, "The 1st Amendment, the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment — any civil rights, any constitutional protection in the Constitution could be up for grabs in this constitutional convention." And Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, told HuffPost, "We shouldn't want to go down that road, especially now that we've just had an experience of how dangerous and unpleasant it is to get close to a constitutional legitimacy crisis."
Although the Cato Institute is quite conservative on economic issues, the libertarian think tank has been highly critical of the more authoritarian ideas pushed by some Republicans and social conservatives.
Waldron notes that because an "an Article V convention has never been called," the "legal limits haven't yet been meaningfully tested."
Some liberals like the idea of a constitutional convention, but Super fears that if one were held, it would be the far-right — not liberals or progressives — calling the shots.
Super told HuffPost, "My fears are basically that the oil and gas industry makes sure that we can ever have cap-and-trade or a carbon tax, and makes it very easy for a single friendly administration to give them irrevocable rights to public lands that the Takings Clause would prevent anyone from ever taking from them — so basically, crippling environmental enforcement."
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