New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse tried to scare readers of the possibility of conservatives holding a nationwide “Article V” constitutional convention, in the name of limiting the federal government.
Conservatives are painted as radical before the Labor Day edition article even begins, in the online subhead: “A Second Constitutional Convention? Some Republicans Want to Force One — A new book by a former Democratic senator warns of the risks of allowing states to call for a convention. Some in the G.O.P. see it as the only way to rein in the federal government.” That would be liberal Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
Representative Jodey Arrington, a conservative Texas Republican, believes it is well past time for something the nation has not experienced for more than two centuries: a debate over rewriting the Constitution.
In that vein, Arrington introduced legislation “to tally applications for a convention from state legislatures and compel Congress to schedule a gathering when enough states have petitioned for one.”
To Russ Feingold, the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin and president of the American Constitution Society, a liberal judicial group, that is a terrible idea. Mr. Feingold sees the prospect of a constitutional convention as an exceptionally dangerous threat from the right and suggests it is closer to reality than most people realize as Republicans push to retake control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.
Feingold is not labeled “liberal,” while Arrington is labeled “conservative” (although Feingold’s judicial group is). Hulse’s labeling bias and favoritism toward Democrats is long-established.
While the rise of election deniers, new voting restrictions and other electoral maneuvering get most of the attention, Mr. Feingold rates the prospect of a second constitutional convention as just as grave a threat to democratic governance.
“If you think this is democracy’s moment of truth, this is one of those things,” he said.
Elements on the right have for years been waging a quiet but concerted campaign to convene a gathering to consider changes to the Constitution. They hope to take advantage of a never-used aspect of Article V, which says in part that Congress, “on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”
Perhaps this was the genuine reason Feingold and by extension the Times is worried:
What also worries the authors is that the leading proponents of the convention idea come from the right and include representatives of the Tea Party movement, the Federalist Society, grass-roots right-wing activists and figures allied with former President Donald J. Trump such as John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote a memo for Mr. Trump outlining how he could seek to overturn the 2020 election.
Hulse had to admit “some liberals have welcomed the idea of a convention as a way to modernize the Constitution and win changes in the makeup and power of the Supreme Court,” to tackle their own set of issues.
Hulse and company signaled the left is not averse to changing the Constitution, at least when done their way:
While a convention is a bad idea, they say, accepting that the Constitution remains chiseled in stone is almost as troubling. They argue for a discussion on new ways to move forward with constitutional change.
Indeed, the Times has previously downplayed the Constitution as “terse and old” for not enshrining liberal “rights” like free health care, while encouraging radical ideas to remake the Supreme Court now that it’s taken a rightward turn.