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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Voting rights groups call constitutional convention efforts a threat to democracy

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Monday, January 22, 2024   

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering a resolution to convene a Convention of States, a process voting rights groups said could put civil liberties at risk.

Congress is required to hold a convention under Article V of the Constitution if two-thirds of state legislatures call for one.

Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said there are no rules in the Constitution for how to govern a convention and no guarantee, even the First Amendment, would be safe.

"There's great risk and great potential harm to everything already enshrined in our Constitution if we do open up this Pandora's box," Foster cautioned.

Foster pointed out a convention could potentially allow unelected delegates and special-interest groups to enshrine their agenda into a founding document. Supporters argued a convention is needed to rein in federal government spending and give more power back to the states.

Twenty-eight state legislatures have already petitioned Congress for a constitutional convention, with the majority calling for a balanced-budget amendment. Just six more states are needed to trigger the event.

Some states are pushing for term limits. California wants an amendment to ensure local governments can enact stronger gun safety laws.

Foster emphasized the problem is not the issues groups want addressed but rather the process of the convention itself.

"There are very deliberate efforts to undermine institutions of democracy, so this is not the time to test an unprecedented process to make changes," Foster asserted.

The state's Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs recently heard testimony on the Massachusetts resolution aiming to limit the federal government's jurisdiction and spending. Foster added he believes legislators in Massachusetts understand the risks associated with a constitutional convention and the prospects for a constitutional crisis.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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