RI considers call for Constitutional Convention

Lessig in HuffPo

I just testified before the House Judiciary Committee of the Rhode Island State Legislature, in support of a resolution introduced by Representative David Segal. Segal’s resolution would exercise Rhode Island’s right under the United States Constitution to demand that Congress call a convention “for proposing amendments” to the United States constitution.

It is impossible for any fair minded soul, whether Democratic or Republican, to look at the current state of the American democracy and not believe that something has gone profoundly wrong. Our framers intended a Congress “dependent upon the people alone.” We have evolved a Congress dependent upon campaign funders. That competing, and indeed corrupting, dependency has destroyed Congress’s ability to answer its first obligation fairly.

Astonishingly, the ACLU opposes such conventions, believing such weighty matters should not be in the hands of We The People but rather left to important personages like the Supreme Court and of course lawyers like themselves- those who know what’s best for us. Lessig wonders if it’s time to turn in his ACLU card. Perhaps they’ve morphed into just another corporatist non-profit.

The absurd and pathetic charade yesterday where House members promised the BP CEO would be “sliced and diced” then acted befuddled and dim while he stonewalled them demonstrates how ineffective our Congress is in the face of corporate power. The scarcely disguised bribes known as campaign contributions are a primary reason why.

Our Constitution was not made for lawyers. It was not to be trusted exclusively to judges. Yet somehow we have allowed a professional class of “civil libertarians” and judges to claim to themselves alone the right to say what our fundamental law should be. This is not just contrary to American traditions. It is destructive of democracy. The “Right of the People to alter” their government, as the Declaration of Independence declares, is “unalienable,” and even if it’s not, we certainly never alienated it to judges, or Congress alone.

Asymptotic Life adds background on how constitutional conventions works, concluding with.

Perhaps the rising anger, Left and Right, will spark some level of cooperation to address what most agree is the central problem of our democracy: money talks. Those entities that have the most speak the loudest, while the vast majority of us can barely whisper.


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