About a Constitutional Convention

A dangerous and misguided effort to alter the U.S. Constitution through a Constitutional Convention is being proposed and considered in state legislatures throughout the country, including Wisconsin.

This approach risks unintentionally unraveling our nation’s fundamental rights and freedoms, and could make sweeping changes to the Constitution that has served our country well for over 200 years.

Changing the Constitution

There are two ways the U.S. Constitution can be amended:

The first way: Congress proposes amendments to the states for ratification. The country has successfully used this approach 27 times.

The second way: State legislatures pass resolutions like the one Wisconsin lawmakers are considering, directing Congress to call a Constitutional convention. The convention then would have broad authority to propose amendments to the constitution. Congress is required to call a convention if at least 34 states call for one.

Dangers of a Runaway Convention

There has only been one similar convention in U.S. history, in 1787 – and delegates to that convention went far beyond their original mandate and made major changes to the nation’s government document. A modern-day convention also has the potential to go beyond the original mandate and make extensive changes to the Constitution, including rewriting the process for states to ratify amendments.

Once a Constitutional convention is called, there is no effective way to limit the issues it could consider. The Constitution itself provides no basis for concluding that a convention could be limited to issues specified in state resolutions, such as campaign finance or a balanced budget requirement. That means the Bill of Rights created by our Founding Fathers could be rewritten at a convention.

Our Founding Fathers were able to have intensive deliberation during the drafting of our Constitution. Today, every single special interest group and ideological donor would attempt to influence the outcome of a constitutional convention. The results could be the elimination of some of the most sacred rights enshrined into our constitution by the framers.

Wisconsin is a Target

Proponents from outside of Wisconsin say that 27 states have active resolutions directing Congress to call a Constitutional convention, with seven more needed. Wisconsin lawmakers are under intense pressure from powerful outside lobbying groups to pass a resolution.

Our lawmakers have already passed Assembly Joint Resolution 21, which calls for a Constitutional convention, and now their bill has been sent to the State Senate to be considered.  

How to Defend the U.S. Constitution

 

ADVOCATE

Call your State Senator to tell them to protect the Constitution by opposing AJR 21. Find out who your legislators are by entering your address in this website.


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I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it?
— Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
[T]here is no way to effectively limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda.”
— Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger
There is no enforceable mechanism to prevent a convention from reporting out wholesale changes to our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
— Former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg