Article V of the Constitution of the United States reads: 

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate. 

Indivisible Hawaii joins with most Americans who believe that preserving our Democracy requires eliminating Citizens United. However, Senate Concurrent Resolution 131, now with the State of Hawaii House Judiciary Committee, dangerously proposes that Hawaii join a list of other states requesting Congress to convene an Article V Convention of the States to accomplish this.

This reckless proposal is not the solution. It brings with it existential threats to our democracy including the threat of a runaway convention, the influence of extensive sources of dark money, lengthy legal disputes that would create long-term chaos and uncertainty.

The notion put forward by groups in favor of an Article V Convention of the States, from both the left and right, that a such a Convention can be limited to a single or limited topics is naïve, uninformed or just plain dishonest. The Constitution is silent on details on how a constitutional convention would be convened or conducted. There are no rules for choosing the leaders. There are also no rules of conduct or checks on what proposals can be considered by the convention.

It is not far-fetched to imagine that some might, for example, propose constitutional amendments for a Muslim or immigrant ban, prohibition of marriage equality, elimination of environmental regulations, restrictions on voting rights, freedom of speech, civil rights, union rights, the right to choose. The cavalier attitude of SCR 131 supporters that a Convention is worth the risk is simply irresponsible or meant to obfuscate. It is a proposition tantamount to playing Russian Roulette with our country.

Detail of the preamble to the United States Constitution. Wikimedia Commons

While the Constitution is silent on how to choose delegates, SCR 131 contains language stating that all individuals elected or appointed to federal office, now or in the past, be prohibited from serving as delegates. This means that if a Convention of States were convened, some with the most experience in protecting our rights including Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Reps. Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard and other experienced leaders would be ineligible to serve as delegates.

Indivisible Hawaii joins an impressive list of organizations which testified at the Judiciary Committee hearing or submitted testimony opposing SCR 131: Hawaii State AFL-CIO, ILWU, ACLU, Democratic Party of Hawaii, Oahu County Democrats Legislative Priorities Committee/Democratic Party of Hawaii, Sierra Club, LGBTQ, Hawaiian Affairs and Labor Caucuses of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, Life of the Land, AFSCME, Common Cause, League of Women Voters (LWV), Puna Pono Alliance, CAP – Community Alliance on Prisons, Hawaii Office of the Attorney General, Hawaii State Teachers Union (HSTA) and Ho’omanapono (HAPA).

We ask that you urge House Judiciary Chair Chris Lee and Co-Chair Joy San Buenaventura not to hear SCR131 — or any bill now or in the future – which proposes an Article V Convention of the States.  We also invite you join with activist groups like Indivisible to build upon the Democratic Party’s successful Blue Wave midterm election and focus on taking back our government in 2020. The preservation of our Democracy will be built on engaged citizens who drive results not chaos.

Indivisible Hawaii is one of 6,000 Indivisible chapters across the country whose mission is to defeat President Trump’s agenda of racism, misogyny and authoritarianism.

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