Editorial: Convention of states would endanger rights

Published: 1/23/2020 6:15:16 AM

The 2020 Legislature must undo a serious mistake made by its predecessors in 2012. That year, one notable for the influence of Tea Party types and outside money on local politics, lawmakers passed a resolution expressing New Hampshire’s support for a convention of states with the power to amend the U.S. Constitution. A move to rescind that resolution deserves the support of every lawmaker and every voter who fears the potential loss of liberties that could occur at such an event.

We were reminded of the dangers of such a convention by two recent letter writers. The Constitution contains a provision that allows, once 34 states agree, a convention to be held to amend the nation’s founding document. No such convention has ever been held, however, nor should one be.

In the words of Harvard professor and constitutional expert Michael Klarman, “I think a convention can do anything they want – re-establish slavery, establish a national church. I just don’t think there’s a limit.” No rules exist to govern delegates to such a convention. They could, for example, outlaw abortion or legalize it. Criminalize homosexual behavior or set religious requirements for holding office.

The Constitution has been amended 27 times without endangering it and the rights it guarantees by, in this hyper-partisan era, convening a convention of states.

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