Constitutional convention premature (Whipple)

In a recent column, State Senator Bryan Townsend urges that Delaware join other states (by enacting SCR 6) in calling for an Article V constitutional convention “to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution so as to reverse recent judicial decisions that have permitted money to play an unduly influential role in the context of political campaigns.”

As noted in a second column by John Sweeney, many constitutional amendments are being talked about these days and it would be hard to limit a convention to consideration of campaign finance reform. Given Delaware’s current position (TWO senators versus about 1/3 of a senator on a pro rata basis), the First State might do well not to rock the boat.

An Article V convention may eventually become necessary to reform a political system on the verge of collapse. Increasingly sharp partisan divide - Congress gridlocked on most significant issues - administrative officials routinely going to the limits of or exceeding their legal authority. Common sense dictates, however, that less radical remedies for the body politic should be considered first.

As the filibuster is a function of Senate rules versus the Constitution, for example, it would be a relatively simple matter to abolish it. Senator Townsend’s column relates how a minority of Senators blocked consideration (never mind approval) of a proposed constitutional amendment that Senators Carper and Coons co-sponsored in the last session of Congress. Many other proposals, including a recent House-passed bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, have suffered a similar fate. With the majority forced to fight with one hand tied behind its back, no wonder Congress is gridlocked!

William Whipple III

For fuller discussion: Which way America, Delaware Chatter, 3/1/15A

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