Photo: Jason M Kelly (Flickr)
Update 4:47 p.m.
Dozens of legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, from more than 30 states gathered at the Indiana Statehouse Thursday to begin creating a foundation for amending the U.S. Constitution through a state-led constitutional convention, the first of its kind.
Organizers say the gathering springs from concern and frustration about the federal government’s overreach and dysfunction.
The first gathering to discuss the possibility of a constitutional convention took place last year at George Washington’s home in Virginia, Mount Vernon.
The discussion continues this week at the “Mount Vernon Assembly” in Indianapolis, where delegates will begin to formulate rules and procedures that would govern a future constitutional convention.
State Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Republican, says every past attempt to create a state-led convention has failed and always for the same reason.
“Every conversation starts with a ‘what’ and it ends with a ‘how.’ And that’s where it derails,” he says. “So that’s essentially what we’re going to be doing here today is addressing that issue head on and defining the ‘how;’ that’s what we need to focus on.”
Democratic leaders in Indiana are deriding the gathering as a political sideshow that can’t produce meaningful solutions.
State Representative Matt Huffman, R-Ohio, the Assembly Chair, says the U.S. Civil War began because political leaders failed to address the major issue of slavery.
“Are we going to be the people who deal with the issues right now at the federal government level? Or are we going to put that off until a real crisis occurs?” he says.
Huffman says this week’s gathering is the beginning of a journey that could take ten years to complete.
More than a hundred legislators from around the country will gather in Indianapolis this week to lay the foundation for a future constitutional convention.
Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long says the gathering comes as state lawmakers grow increasingly concerned about what they see as overreach by the federal government.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides for the creation of a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of the states.
Fort Wayne Republican Senator David Long says the so-called Mount Vernon Assembly that will take place in Indianapolis beginning Thursday is meant to begin developing rules and procedures that would govern such a convention.
Long says state lawmakers from 33 states are gathering because of what he calls the erosion of states’ rights, emphasized in recent court rulings.
“Then the Obamacare decision really brought home the fact that the 10th amendment is pretty much dead; if you call it a tax, the federal government can pretty much do anything they want,” Long says.
But Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says the event is just a carnival show meant to pander to the far-right wing of the Republican Party.
“I think it’s political theatre – and by the way, it might be interesting to watch; theatre can be very entertaining,” he says. “But let’s not forget it is entertainment, it’s not far-reaching and serious solution-making.”
Long says the gathering is a bipartisan one and emphasizes that no specific proposed constitutional amendments will be discussed.