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Could Nevada Thwart a Constitutional Convention?

Opponents of calling a constitutional convention are proposing legislation to take Nevada off the list of supporting states. (wnypnt/Pixabay)
Opponents of calling a constitutional convention are proposing legislation to take Nevada off the list of supporting states. (wnypnt/Pixabay)
March 3, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Groups from across the political spectrum in Nevada are banding together to stop an effort to call for a national constitutional convention. Their fear is that the nation's bedrock document could be rewritten to favor special interests.

For Congress to call an Article V convention, 34 states have to pass resolutions in support. Nevada voted its support in 1979 and Wyoming this week became the 29th state to do so. However, Jared Busker, policy analyst for the Children's Action Alliance in Nevada, said he favors a proposal to rescind Nevada's request.

"We're really getting pretty close on this actually becoming a thing that's going to be called," he said, "so as many states that can rescind, the better."

A bill draft request by state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, is at the Legislative Counsel Bureau, which is expected to set a hearing date in the next two months.

The American Legislative Exchange Council and other conservative groups support a convention, ostensibly to push for a balanced budget amendment.

Jay Riestenberg, campaigns and states media strategist for the nonprofit Common Cause opposes an Article V convention. He warned that anything in the Constitution, including any past Supreme Court decision, could be on the chopping block.

"So, we're talking about voting rights, civil rights, constitutional and civil liberties, marriage equality, environmental safeguards, abortion access," he said. "This is an opportunity for conservatives to enshrine their extreme agenda in the Constitution."

However, Janine Hansen, national constitutional issues chairman for the conservative Eagle Forum and Nevada Families for Freedom, said the opposition to the prospect of a constitutional convention is bipartisan.

"I'm concerned first of all about the right to bear arms and our religious liberties," she said. "The convention of states is looking at opening up the entire Constitution to structural change."

Anything passed at an Article V convention still would have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states, but the delegates could vote to lower that threshold. There never has been another Constitutional Convention since the original, which took place in 1789.

The Wyoming resolution is online at legisweb.state.wy.us.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV