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Rep. Latterell Plays Minuteman, Forwards ALEC Effort to Destroy Constitution

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 1002 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.


  1. larry kurtz 2016-02-26 09:51

    But laud Latterell and his nutball caucus for running out the clock instead of debating ethics reform and the culture of corruption in Pierre.

  2. mike from iowa 2016-02-26 10:26

    Last I heard of the Minutemen was – Perez testified that Bush-era DOJ “declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation” against Minutemen. As Media Matters noted, Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, cited the Minutemen case in his May 14 testimony to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and said that “the Department declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation, notwithstanding the requests of the complaining parties.” From Perez’s testimony:

  3. Bob Newland 2016-02-26 10:44

    Latterell is a remarkable nutball among heavy competition, but then, you knew that.

    I don’t, however, get the Mel Gibson allusion.

  4. Rorschach 2016-02-26 10:48

    Latterell lost a couple of legislative races in Aberdeen before carpet bagging down to a newly drawn GOP-safe district to run. Still not sure if he lives in his district or in Don Haggar’s basement with his girlfriend.

  5. 90 Schilling 2016-02-26 10:50

    Interesting, how short a time frame it took to get Sam Marty down and drag him by the short hairs. So much for “go get em cowboy.”

  6. Rorschach 2016-02-26 11:06

    To finish my thought, Latterell is another example of how a combination of gerrymandering by the GOP party and weakness of the Democratic Party result in the election of previously unelectable wannabes and posers and an overall lower quality legislature.

  7. larry kurtz 2016-02-26 11:21

    Of which religious cult is Latterell a member?

  8. Don Coyote 2016-02-26 12:11

    Wow, imagine that! Democrat Rep Ray Ring citing leftist Robert Greenstein’s Center for Budget and Policy Priorities fallacious argument from authority to bolster his opposition to a balanced budget amendment. Ring must have not read economist and Nobel laureates Milton Friedman and James M Buchanan’s arguments for a balanced budget amendment.

    Buchanan in particular points out that prior to adoption of Keynesian economics by politicians of both stripes that there wasn’t a need for an explicit fiscal rule:

    “The first century and one-half of our national political history did, indeed, embody a norm of budget balance. This rule was not written into the constitutional document, as such, but rather it was a part of an accepted set of attitudes about how government should, and must, carry on its fiscal affairs. Politicians prior to World War II would have considered it to be immoral (to be a sin) to spend more than they were willing to generate in tax revenues, except during periods of extreme and temporary emergency. To spend borrowed funds on ordinary items for public consumption was, quite simply, beyond the pale of acceptable political behavior. There were basic moral constraints in place; there was no need for an explicit fiscal rule in the written constitution.”

    Read it all here:

  9. Jerry Sweeney 2016-02-26 14:25

    The senatorial filibuster is not part of the 2nd Philadelphia Constitution nor are corporations enumerated as people in the 14th Amendment. Belike the folks who want a constitutional convention should first content themselves with what’s being ignored in the current document.

  10. Donald Pay 2016-02-26 14:33


    I notice Heartland recounts the history of how the federal government ran fiscal affairs in the past. But let’s recreate a fuller understanding here so that we aren’t just cherry picking our favorite ideas from the folks that lived back in the horse and buggy era.

    If Heartland wants to go back to the 1700s and 1800s in how the federal government conducts fiscal affairs, and I’m willing to talk about it, let’s also talk about recreating the founders’ distrust of corporate governance upon which Heartland and other righty foundations are dependent. Let’s end perpetual corporate life and make it dependent on public values. This would reflect the values at our nation’s founding.

    “For 100 years after the American Revolution, legislators maintained tight control of the corporate chartering process. Because of widespread public opposition, early legislators granted very few corporate charters, and only after debate. Citizens governed corporations by detailing operating conditions not just in charters but also in state constitutions and state laws. Incorporated businesses were prohibited from taking any action that legislators did not specifically allow.”

    After we have done away with all of Heartland’s corporate funding, which I’m sure they would be happy to do since it fits their 18th century worldview, we can talk about massive reductions in our defense establishment, and giving back three-quarters of the nation to Indian tribes, which was also the case in the 18th century.

    See, you if you want to live by 18th century rules, I’d be willing to discuss it, but don’t try to bullshit people with just one part of life back then.

  11. Jason Sebern 2016-02-26 16:58

    Thank you Dr. Sweeney.

  12. Don Coyote 2016-02-26 17:52

    @Jerry Sweeney:

    Senatorial filibuster rules are covered by Art 1, Sec 5, Clause 2 of the Constitution: “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings,…”

    While a specific Right of Association is not mentioned in the Constitution (neither is a Right to Privacy), corporations are merely organizations of people and as such people should not be deprived of their Constitutional First Amendment rights when acting collectively.

    Also under US case law, the Supreme Court held in Trustees of Dartmouth College v Woodward (1819) “The opinion of the Court, after mature deliberation, is that this corporate charter is a contract, the obligation of which cannot be impaired without violating the Constitution of the United States.”

  13. Don Coyote 2016-02-26 20:09

    @Bob Newland:

    “I don’t, however, get the Mel Gibson allusion.”

    The movie “The Patriot” where Mel Gibson’s character is loosely based on Benjamin Martin (the Swamp Fox) who led South Carolina irregular militia in the Revolutionary War in guerrilla warfare which proved instrumental in driving British forces from the South.

  14. Don Coyote 2016-02-26 20:11

    Excuse me, Mel gibson’s character Benjamin Martin was loosely based on Francis Marion who was “The Swamp Fox”.

  15. leslie 2016-02-26 23:09

    freidman’s been debunked significantly by krugman, chompsky and Hendry, says wiki

  16. Donal 2016-02-27 08:43

    What we need is William Wallace (Braveheart)…….. we have enough politicians fighting for the scraps from the Koch Brothers (ALEC) table. South Dakota needs a person willing to fight for “FREEDOM” from the corrupt and hateful republican dictators in this state and the country. In the movie, “The patriot”, Benjamin Martin did not own slaves, yet the republicants are attempting to make slaves of us all. The republican brand is successful in South Dakota due to major control of the media and the unwillingness of the voters to educate themselves on the issues and vote for the person over just vote for the party of their forefathers.
    The Democrats are, for the most part, republicans in sheep’s clothing as they have continuously proven over and over again in the past. Time to throw out the main stream parties and bring in a new party of Bravehearts who are willing make this state free again for all of us.

  17. mike from iowa 2016-02-27 08:53

    While a specific Right of Association is not mentioned in the Constitution (neither is a Right to Privacy) nor do you find the words god or guns in the constitution.

  18. Donald Pay 2016-02-27 10:48

    Again, as a true conservative originalist I don’t care what some pointy-headed justices said in 1819. Besides, states simply rewrote some statutes to comply, but that did not much hinder their continued refusal to allow corporate charters for simply private purposes.

    The history at the time of the ratification of the Constitution is clear. The framers had a enormous distrust of the misues of the corporate charter. They had lived through it, and had severely restricted their use only to areas where there was a public need. They provided for freedom of assembly to individuals, but not for freedom of corporate governance over that assembly of individuals.

  19. Rich 2016-02-27 12:05

    Listening to Isaac Latterell inspires me to take a nap. A younger slick, useless version of John Thune and an ego that matches the ‘senior’ senator’s.

  20. mike from iowa 2016-02-27 14:24

    Or is that “Seen Your Senator” Marlboro Barbie. He must be attached at the hip to Mitch McCTurtle from South Who Cares. He only appears when Mitchy does.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-27 19:43

    Bob, read Don at 20:09. Click also on the link in my original post. And further, enjoy the allusion to a somewhat unbalanced and bigoted Australian playing patriotic dress-up.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-28 16:34

    Don Coyote’s response to Dr. Sweeney is, predictably, wrong. Corporations and people are not identical. People have free speech rights. People construct corporations, automobiles, and Dagwood sandwiches. Corporations, automobiles, and Dagwood sandwiches do not have free speech rights.

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