Puerto rico government

Republicans could make drastic changes to Constitution with ‘runaway’ convention, says former Democratic senator

  • Republicans plotted to rewrite the Constitution and limit federal power.
  • Former senator Russ Feingold and researcher Peter Prindiville write in their new book that this could lead to drastic changes in government.
  • “In this uncertainty lies great danger and, perhaps, great power,” they write, according to the NYT.

Republicans have campaigned behind the scenes for years to change the Constitution through a gathering of 34 state legislatures known as the Constitutional Convention.

A constitutional convention, designated by Article V of the Constitution, would allow state legislatures to pass or ratify constitutional amendments without a governor’s signature, congressional intervention, or any input from the president.

Some Republicans are trying to use a convention, which has never been done in US history, to limit the spending and taxing powers of the federal government and impose term limits on more federal officials.

Former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold and constitutional scholar Peter Prindiville write in their new book “The Constitution in Peril” that a “runaway” convention has the potential to break the script and create massive changes in the way whose federal government regulates laws regarding health care, education and the environment.

Prindiville told the Times that the convention would operate as an “autonomous and separate constitutional body” with no clear indication of how it would operate because the rules of a constitutional convention were never detailed by the framers.

“Despite claims of legal certainty by proponents of the convention, the most important questions about how a meeting held under Article V would be convened and how it would operate remain unresolved,” Feingold and Prindiville write in their book, according to the Times.

“The editors left no rules. In this uncertainty lies great danger and, perhaps, great power.”

Insider’s Grace Panetta and Brent D. Griffiths previously reported on the Republican plan to assemble a constitutional convention to dump environmental regulations and education standards while making it harder for Washington, DC or territories like Puerto Rico to d achieve state status.

Rob Natelson, a key Article V scholar in the movement to call a convention, previously dismissed the potential for a “fleeting” convention to Insider.

The States Convention, which has ties to prominent Republicans like former Trump lawyer John Eastman, pushed for narrow revisions of the Constitution which would limit “the power and jurisdiction” of the federal government.

David Super, a professor and constitutional law expert at Georgetown University Law Center, told Insider that limiting the power of the federal government could actually lead to extreme and far-reaching change.

“I challenge you to name any constitutional amendment you might want that I couldn’t qualify as one of the three things in the States Convention,” Super told Panetta and Griffiths. “You want to repeal the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment? It limits the power of the federal government to interfere with state laws. Almost anything you want, you can characterize as one of those things.”

Nineteen states have so far passed a States Convention resolution — with five states making progress on the resolution — according to an Insider analysis. Three states — South Dakota, Iowa and North Carolina — have Republican-led state legislatures.

Supporters of a constitutional convention include Eastman, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

Natelson previously told Insider he predicted there was a 50% chance the country could form one within the next five years.