This fall, Iowa voters will be asked whether or not they want to call for a constitutional convention that would allow them to revise the state’s constitution. Voters are automatically asked this question once every decade. The thinking behind the ballot question is to give the people of Iowa a route around an unresponsive legislature that is ignoring the will of the people.
While the media has been fixated on the anti-retention campaign that Bob Vander Plaats is involved with, TheIowaRepublican.com poll shows that it may be easier to get the necessary 51 percent to call the convention than garner the necessary support to oust the three Supreme Court Justices who are up for retention this year.
The poll showed that 42 percent of those surveyed supported calling the convention, while 36 percent opposed it. Of the 42 percent who supported the convention, 20 percent definitely supported it, while 22 percent said that they would probably support the convention. Of the 36 percent that opposed the convention, 18 percent were definitely against it, while 18 percent were probably against the convention. Twenty-one percent of those surveyed were undecided.
The constitutional convention has some surprising opponents. Bob Vander Plaats, who based his entire campaign on the issue of marriage, has repeatedly called the constitutional convention option “reckless.” Vander Plaats is not alone, as a number of conservatives are uneasy about calling the convention.
Ironically, it seems like those who spend the most time reminding us that we live in a republic, are the same people who are opposed to the convention. If they really believe that all power is inherent to the people, how can they oppose doing something that allows the people to bypass an unresponsive legislature? Isn’t the convention option the ultimate demonstration of a republican form of government?
While the issue of marriage has dominated the discussions on the constitutional convention, there are a number of issues that could be addressed in a constitutional convention. In addition to protecting traditional marriage, Iowans could include a gun rights amendment, a 99 percent spending limitation, a super majority requirement to raise taxes, a change to the process for selecting judges in the state, and a weakening of the powers and abilities of the Iowa Supreme Court.
The main obstacle to the convention is educating Iowans about the process. For the convention to pass, it needs to garner a simple majority in this fall’s election. The legislature will then determine how and when the delegates to the convention will be elected. This is the area in which those who oppose the convention are most concerned. They worry that Sen. Mike Gronstal and Speaker Pat Murphy will have too much control over the process.
While Gronstal and Murphy are they main reasons why a marriage amendment has been thwarted at every turn in the legislature, their involvement in the convention process is minimal. If they pull any shenanigans, the public outcry would be enormous.
After the legislature provides for the election of delegates and the delegates are selected, the process of the convention is really no different than what Republican experience when amending and changing its party platform at the state convention. The only difference is that each change in the constitution will be up for a vote in the next general election. The final say on any changes made to the constitution is in the hands of the people, not the legislature or even the convention delegates.
The timing for the constitutional convention is also ideal. With various S.O.A.R. (Save Our American Republic) and 9-12 groups in existence, more people than ever are talking about limited government and constitutional principles.
Another thing to consider is that the eyes of the nation will be on Iowa during the process thanks to the Iowa’s First-In-The-Nation Caucuses. The national spotlight will not only allow the people of Iowa to keep Gronstal and Murphy in check, but it could also be helpful in educating Iowans about the need to make changes to our state constitution.
For those who what to limit the power of the court, the only way to do it is by altering our state constitution. Ousting the three Supreme Court Justices who face a retention votes will send a message, but it will do nothing to fix the larger problem. The convention will also provides an opportunity to make additional changes that were mentioned above.
There is a chance that not all the proposed changes to the constitution will be supported by conservatives. If that’s the case, we must trust the people of Iowa to weed out the bad changes and keep the good when they vote.
The constitutional convention gives power to the people to have a government and laws that reflect their desires, not the desires of seven un-elected judges, or a legislator form another part of the state who doesn’t represent them. Iowans deserve a full debate on the benefits that a constitutional convention would provide.
For more information about process or to get involved with the effort to call the convention, please visit www.CallTheConvention.com
blog comments powered by Disqus