Bad idea lurks in N.C. House

The Observer editorial board

Among those who would not be at a second constitutional convention? Thomas Jefferson.
Among those who would not be at a second constitutional convention? Thomas Jefferson.

N.C. lawmakers have passed the state budget and hope to adjourn by the end of next week. That might be a reason to celebrate, but it could also be a reason to get nervous.

Bad things can happen in the closing days of a session, with a flurry of bills coming up for votes with little debate. Sometimes proposals that were long forgotten and thought dead reemerge like the monster in a horror flick.

One that fits that description is Senate Bill 36. It is a resolution in which North Carolina applies to Congress for a constitutional convention of the states. Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides that a constitutional convention shall be held when two-thirds of the states (34) call for one on the same topic.

The Senate passed the resolution back in April (with five Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition). The bill has been parked in the House Rules Committee ever since, and it needs to stay there in this closing week of the session.

The convention would be “limited to proposing amendments to the United States Constitution that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

In other words, the convention would be limited to an enormous Pandora’s Box of mischief.

America hasn’t held a constitutional convention since 1787. Given the quality of the statesmen we have today compared with then, and given the dangerous polarization that marks the United States today, calling one now could spiral into unknown territory and is an exceedingly bad idea.

The House should let this bill sit right where it is.