Do we need a constitutional convention?

October 24, 1990|By the League of Women Voters of Maryland.

ARGUMENTS FOR: The present constitution is not a basic, fundamental document like the U.S. Constitution. It is long and complex, approximately 10 times as long as the U.S. Constitution, with over 200 changes.

Legislators have adopted the expedient of amending the Constitution to assure the legality of almost every major piece of legislation, so that the Constitution tends to resemble an only slightly shortened version of the annotated code. It should be rewritten as a clear and simple statement of the structure and functions of government and the rights of citizens.

2. The citizens of many states enjoy some rights that we do not have, rights not apt to be initiated by the state legislature. These include initiative -- the right to put a possible law or constitutional amendment on the ballot by petition -- and the right to recall elected officials by petition. While there is no guarantee that either right would come out of a constitutional convention, the chances of their coming out of the legislature are not likely at this time.

*

ARGUMENTS AGAINST: There is no particular need for a state Constitution to mirror the federal Constitution in form and length. Although it may offend the sensibilities of political theorists, our present system of amending the Constitution to accommodate legislative changes provides the voters, who must approve all constitutional amendments, with adequate control over major legislation. It also means that the voters, rather than the courts through judicial review, have the chief say in what is or is not to be constitutional.

2. A constitutional convention is a long and expensive process and should not be undertaken unless the voters feel that some fundamental change is needed which cannot be gained by any other route.

3. Constitutional amendments initiated by the legislature have already removed much of the archaic language and obsolete provisions that existed in the present Constitution at the time of the last convention.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.