by Mary Sacksteder, Indivisible Worcester
Who among us is aware of Article V of the U.S. Constitution? I wasn’t, until an Indivisible Worcester member brought to my attention last winter the efforts of Republican organizers attempting to use this one-paragraph Article to turn back the clock on over 115 years of progress toward equality and justice.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Convention of the States, and their supporters are organizing to promote a national Constitutional Convention under Article V. Their proposed amendments include: requiring a balanced federal budget, ending the federal income tax, reversing all climate change legislation, and limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government — especially to regulate corporations. These amendments would eliminate many federal agencies, including the FDA, IRS, FTC, DOE, DOA, and DOJ. In other words, any federal agency that stands in the way of corporate profits and a two-tiered society.
Under Article V, each state has one vote on proposed amendments to the Constitution, regardless of the population of the state. This puts power in the hands of a minority to create a Constitution that favors that minority. This is no pipe dream of the Koch Brothers, the Mercers, and Steve Bannon. Right-wing activists have staged mock conventions yearly since 2013 in preparation for a real Article V Convention.The most recent of these took place this past August. Their stated purpose is to reverse 115 years of progressivism.
In the last month, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), held hearings on a Constitutional Convention strategy. There is currently a bill before the U.S. Congress to recognize that the requisite number of states have now requested an Article V Convention and call for the Convention — to begin in 2025.
Please watch this video, produced by the American Constitution Society, Common Cause, and the Center for Media and Democracy to learn more about this threat to our democracy. I had to watch it twice to get my arms around the level of danger the proposed changes pose to our democracy.
On October 25, 2023, Mike Johnson, a far-right constitutional lawyer, was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also serves on the House Judiciary Committee, and is the chairman of its Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government. If Republicans retain the House majority in the next cycle, they may push for a Constitutional Convention. This is yet another reason why the 2024 elections and control of Congress are vitally important.
Our country needs us to dig deep and focus on our optimism and resilience to defend against one more threat from the right.