Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea) continues to play out his Minuteman fantasies. On Wednesday, he brought his third (see also 2015 and 2014) resolution calling for an Article V Constitutional Convention to amend the United States Constitution. House Joint Resolution says we want to convene to discuss Constitutional amendments “limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and members of Congress.”
See Rep. Latterell’s remarks on House Joint Resolution 1002 starting at 1:46:00 in SDPB’s video of Wednesday’s House floor debate:
Rep. Latterell explicitly invokes the Minutemen and likens a vote for an Article V Convention to mustering at Lexington and facing down the British with muskets. Translation: I’m not wasting the South Dakota Legislature’s time with posturing talk-radio karaoke; I’m Mel Gibson shootin’ Redcoats!
Economist Rep. Ray Ring (D-17/Vermillion) rose to throw economics at Mel Gibson, pointing out that the balanced budget amendment sought by Rep. Latterell and friends is “unsound and unnecessary,” demanding “perverse actions” in the face of economic downturns.
The House at first turned Mel Gibson down: on the first vote, HJR 1002 missed a majority by one vote. Rep. Latterell moved to reconsider, and on the second try, got Reps. Klumb, Marty, and May to realize they’d pushed the wrong button and put the Article V Convention over the hump, 37–30.
Like Latterell’s previous calls for an Article V Constitutional Convention, HJR 1002 is just conservative monkeyshines pushed by legislators who’ve been to too many ALEC meetings. Convention of States Action, the organization pushing this amendment with radio ads, has deep ties to ALEC and other Big-Money interests that wants to use the Constitution to choke the federal government’s ability to check corporate power.
Rep. Latterell insists that calling a Constitutional Convention won’t lead to runaway amendments, that his resolution and wise legislators will check any excesses. But the history of his own effort shows we can’t trust the Article V Convention pushers to resist mission creep. Just last year, Rep. Latterell and his tri-corner hatted pals passed a resolution calling for an Article V Convention limited solely to passing a balanced budget amendment. In just one year, Rep. Latterell’s designs on the Constitution have exploded from that one explicit and limited arithmetic proposal to the much broader “fiscal restraints”, plus term limits, plus the incredibly vague intent to “limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.”
Runaway convention? You can’t “run away” if there is no fence!
ALEC and other corporations have been buying state legislatures for a reason: if Big Money controls the statehouses, Big Money can grab the Constitution by the throat, throw it in the dirt, and rule unchecked by the democratic will of the people.
HJR 1002 is more than a waste of problem-solving time in Pierre. It is a cynical effort by corporations to prop up dupes like Rep. Isaac Latterell to play Minuteman while they burn down democracy.