New Jersey Democrats move to block Republican push for Constitutional Convention to ‘preserve democratic process’

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Handout image of an extremely rare official first-edition printed copy of the U.S. Constitution as adopted by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787

Trenton – In an effort to ‘preserve the democratic process and protect the rights of all Americans’, the Senate today advanced a resolution sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that would rescind all applications previously transmitted by the New Jersey Legislature to the U.S. Congress calling for a constitutional convention.

The resolution, SCR-161, would recall all applications from the New Jersey Legislature sent to the U.S. Congress with the intention of proposing amendments. Because no constitutional convention has been called and there are no established rules for such an event or how representation would be determined, there are major concerns that the convention would prove to be undemocratic.

“Calling for a constitutional convention with the intent of proposing potentially unjust and restrictive amendments undermines our democracy and the tremendous advances that have taken place in our state and in the nation,” said Senator Sweeney (D- Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “As lawmakers, it is our duty to act in the best interest of the citizens of our state. Calling for a constitutional convention­­—an event that has not taken place since 1787, when the old Articles of Confederation were scrapped­­ and a new Constitution written–would pose a threat to the very fabric of our democracy.”

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The State of New Jersey submitted at least nine petitions for a constitutional convention between 1861 and 2015. This resolution would rescind all petitions previously passed by the New Jersey Legislature in order to prevent potential future misuse of those petitions.

Due to Republican efforts, there are currently applications from 27 states requesting a convention on a Balanced Budget Amendment and six generic applications for a general convention. Despite the differing reasons, that makes 33 states with pending applications, and only one more would be required to call for a constitutional convention. The outcome of this resolution will remove New Jersey from the list of states with pending applications.