Conservatives like to talk about calling a convention to change the U.S. Constitution. It’s usually discussed in the context of a potential balanced budget amendment; Marco Rubio said just this week that he’d support such a convention. On Friday, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott added his voice to the conversation—and went way beyond the balanced-budget idea, calling for amendments that would basically end the United States as we know it.
If you think I’m being hyperbolic, look at Abbott’s list of ideas:
The first four, the seventh, and the eighth are fairly unremarkable and in line with a lot of conservative rhetoric about federal overreach. The sixth is a little odd, but vague. The fifth and ninth, though, are very specific and completely bonkers. (The ninth calls to mind nullification, one of the Southern concepts that helped bring about the Civil War.) Keep in mind that, given the way population is distributed, a “two-thirds majority” of states wouldn’t actually have to include anywhere close to a majority of the country’s population. (The combined population of the 34 smallest U.S. states, for instance, is slightly more than 100 million out of a total population of 318 million.) At this very moment, in fact, there are 32 Republican governors and 31 Republican-controlled state legislatures despite the fact that a Republican presidential candidate has only gotten more than 50 percent of the vote once since 1988. (George W. Bush got 50.7 percent in 2004.)
Abbott’s proposal, in other words, could quite easily give a party that was in the minority nationally the ability to veto duly passed congressional legislation and to overturn Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board of Education, destroying the balance of powers and, really, defeating the purpose of having a Congress or a Supreme Court in the first place.
Let’s not do this.