What is Senate Concurrent Resolution 596 and Why Should You Care?
ALEC, an out-of-state, non-voting organization, writes many of the bills we see turn into law. Here’s an example. Yes, you should probably be alarmed. Sources here and here.
This right here is wild: Legislators in the Mississippi House just passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 596, which could endanger the entire nation. The resolution, which passed the Senate in February, is almost solely supported by Republicans and plops Mississippi into a growing puddle of states that support a re-write of the U.S. Constitution. The author of that resolution in Mississippi was Sen. Angela Burkes Hill, R-Picayune, the woman behind the controversial fetal heartbeat bill recently approved by the governor.
The resolution is the result of a well-financed national effort by special interest groups to call a constitutional convention, under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, and conduct a far-reaching overhaul of the Constitution. Political watchdog groups like Common Cause describe the effort as being “just six states short of reaching the constitutionally-required 34-state goal” by “targeting Republican-controlled legislatures.” All the states on board thus far are, as you’ve likely guessed, southern and/or conservative.
This constitutional convention, or “Con-Con,” could change everything about the U.S. Constitution that (mostly) protects us. A taste of the horrendous damage that could come from a new Constitution can be seen in the kind of lobbyists pushing for it. Ultra-conservative weirdos like confirmed conspiracy theorists Glenn Beck and Mark Levin have eagerly pushed for an Article V convention, arguing the federal government needs a new constitution to keep the feds from preventing states from wantonly oppressing people.
Shameless autocratic groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (you know, the Koch Brothers) also back the move. ALEC works by writing proposed laws for low-imagination legislators to rubberstamp. The council writes the laws, and legislators (many of us didn’t even vote for) impose those laws upon their state residents. We know this is how it worked in this case because the bill Sen. Hill submitted had virtually no changes from ALEC’s “Con-Con” version. That’show little imagination she has.
For the last 10 years, ALEC has also been busily restricting democracy and curtailing voting through discriminatory practices. The organization kicked their work into high gear after Americans elected their first Black president—presumably an effort to make sure this never, ever happens again.
Anti-democracy org Citizens for Self-Governance also wants a new Constitution, and it’s a fair guess what they plan to do with it. Citizens for Self-Governance senior fellow and constitutional lawyer Michael Farris is a hardline theocrat and founder of “God’s Harvard,” which seeks to transform secular America “into a God-fearing one, from the top down.” Farris is also a home-school advocate who wants to take money from public schools and put it into little hillbillies’ segregated academy education, so big hillbillies can more easily afford it. (That wasn’t nice, was it?)
Farris was outed by reporter Hanna Rosin in 2007 as having taken white America’s passion for the home-schooling movement and putting their home-school graduates into colleges like Patrick Henry College, which was established in 2000 to provide students with “both Christian training and a secular, Ivy League-quality education.” That “Ivy League training” has little to do with broadening their minds and more to do with providing, in their words, opposition research, for the purpose of helping students grow up and spread “their fundamentalist faith in creationism or their opposition to gay rights or abortion.”
Interestingly enough, not all right-wing radicals are gunning for a new Constitution. Some with foresight are nervous that liberals could get their hands in the mix and do horrible things, like give rights to Americans or encourage democracy. The New American, for example (so not eager to post a link to those jerks, but here, I guess), warns that advocates for democracy are threatening to abolish the Electoral College, which was created solely to give undue political power to low-population slave states prior to the Civil War. They also fear that pro-democracy groups might <gasps> give U.S. citizens living in American territories, like Puerto Rico, the “right to vote for president.” Yikes!
The fact of the matter is a new constitution could upend the pro-democracy progress this nation has spent more than 200 years struggling to attain through blood and strength. People of color, particularly Black and indigenous people, have spent more time here not being able to vote than voting, so even getting here was quite the trek. Tumbling backward will take very little effort, and, it seems, a majority of Mississippi legislators (with their long, rotten history of segregation and oppression) are itching to give a small, disrupting push.