Tomorrow, you will choose between your constitutional rights or an expensive fantasy.
In recent weeks, the ACLU of Rhode Island and a number of other organizations have talked extensively about the risks of a Constitutional Convention. We’ve shown what came from the 1986 Convention, including a lasting restriction on the right to bail, and the 20 years it took to undo the Convention’s disastrous impact on minority voting rights. We’ve shown you the political trickery used to deceive voters during the last convention, like this question, approved by the voters in part because nobody knew exactly what it meant:
(It actually contains a restriction on the right to abortion: can you find it?)
We’ve brought you the words of delegates of the 1986 convention, like Lila Sapinsley, who said:
“If delegates to the 2015 convention are elected by existing electoral districts we will again have a duplicate of the legislature. Let’s concentrate on electing better representatives and forget about an expensive duplicate of the General Assembly.”
And we’ve shown what you can expect from a convention now by examining issues faced in other states, including:
- Bans on affirmative action
- Denial of various rights to immigrants
- Restrictions of LGBT rights
- Unprecedented restrictions on abortion
- Restrictions on state participation in the federal health care exchange
- Tax credits or vouchers for religious schools.
Despite all this evidence, proponents promise a Constitutional Convention divorced from politics and from the undue influence of out-of-state special interests spending millions to push their own pet projects.
The ACLU shares the frustration of many with the actions of the General Assembly, but your rights are too great a risk to take. Promises cannot protect your rights. Your vote can. Rejecting Question 3 may force advocates for change to work harder, but it makes sure your rights are still yours in 2016.
Tomorrow, vote to reject Question 3. Your rights depend on it.