The following letter was sent to Georgia lawmakers this week from a local coalition of civil rights and advocacy groups.
Protect Our Constitutional Rights – Vote NO on SR 854
March 11, 2020
We are writing you today on the dangers of an Article V convention and to urge you to vote “NO” on SR 854, which would renew Georgia’s call for a new constitutional convention where every Americans’ constitutional rights may be at stake.
The push to call a constitutional convention, under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, is backed by national wealthy special interests. Should they succeed, this would be the first constitutional convention since the original convention in 1787 — all constitutional amendments since then have been passed first by Congress and then approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures. There are no rules and guidelines in the U.S. Constitution on how a convention would work, which creates an opportunity for a runaway convention that could rewrite any constitutional right or protection currently available to American citizens.
SR 854 is an attempt to renew Georgia’s call for an Article V convention passed in 2014. At least one of Georgia’s applications for an Article V convention passed in 2014 expired at the beginning of this year, and we believe the wealthy special interest groups behind this effort are attempting to pass SR 854 to put a new convention application for Georgia on the books.
It is paramount that the Georgia legislature reject this resolution, and any other resolution that calls for an Article V convention, to protect everyone’s constitutional rights and civil liberties, including the right to free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to vote. The Constitution offers no rules for how a convention would work or if a convention can be limited to considering one amendment or subject. That leads to several potential problems:
- With no rules, there is a threat of a runaway convention that could propose repealing or significantly changing important constitutional rights and civil liberties Americans have fought and died for.
- Wealthy special interest groups could set the convention’s agenda and use their power and money to overtly influence the selection of delegates and the proceedings of the convention.
- With no guidelines in the Constitution, it is unclear how or if Americans would be equally represented in a convention and how their voices would be heard.
- There is no clear process on how Congress or any other governmental body would count and add up Article V applications, or if Congress or the states could restrain the convention’s mandate based on those applications.
Simply put, an Article V constitutional convention is a dangerous and uncontrollable process that would put Americans’ constitutional rights and civil liberties at risk. At a time when extreme gerrymandering has created unprecedented polarization and big money buys access and influence for a few very wealthy special interests, a new constitutional convention would lead to chaos; the interests of everyday Americans would be shut out of the ultimate closed-door meeting. There would be no way to limit the scope of a constitutional convention and no way to guarantee that our civil liberties and constitutional process would be protected.
The American people also agree that an Article V constitutional convention is a bad idea. A recent national poll done by J. Wallin Opinion Research revealed that majorities of Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters all oppose changing the Constitution through an Article V convention. Overall, 60.2% of voters become less likely to support a convention after learning it could change the rights to free speech, freedom of religion, and even the right to vote.
To protect all American’s constitutional rights and privileges from being put at risk, the undersigned organizations strongly urge you to oppose any resolution calling for a constitutional convention and to vote “NO” on SR 854. For more information about the threat of an Article V convention, please visit defendourconstitution.org.
ACLU of Georgia
All Voting Is Local Georgia
Black Voters Matter Fund
Common Cause Georgia
Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda
Georgia Conservation Voters
Georgia Stand Up
League of Women Voters of Georgia
Partnership for Southern Equity
Southern Poverty Law Center
Women Watch Afrika