The Indiana Senate has approved legislation that could tear up the U.S. Constitution, by way of a constitutional convention. It's a dangerous move.
The U.S. Constitution allows for a new constitutional convention with the vote of two-thirds of the states' legislatures. If Senate Joint Resolution 18 is approved by the Indiana House, that convention is a step closer.
Indiana Senate President David Long's legislation is intended to assert states' rights. Senate Bills 224 and 225 would set the duties and method of selection for Indiana's delegates, along with the ability to recall delegates who don't follow the script.
Long said his legislation prevents a "runaway convention," but we disagree.
This is a highly charged political atmosphere, and anything could happen when the Constitution is taken in for surgery. The Founding Fathers' wisdom might not be evidenced in a new constitutional convention.
Yet Long is so enthralled with the idea of a new convention that he said he plans to send a "how to do it" kit to legislative leaders in other states.
Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, any amendments proposed by the states' delegates would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states (currently 38 states) to be added to the Constitution.
That offers some protection against amendments that don't make sense, but remember that amendments can change existing provisions of the Constitution. It has happened before.
That's a risk that isn't worth taking.
The United States already has a constitution that works well. Rather than convene another constitutional convention, work through the customary framework to make any necessary changes.
Filter proposals through Congress and then through state legislatures. Changes to the Constitution should be made sparingly and not as highly partisan political statements.
The Republican leadership in the Indiana House should do what the Republican leadership in the Indiana Senate did not -- quash this resolution calling for a constitutional convention.
Opening a constitutional convention in an era when there is already so much political strife will only serve to further drive wedges in American society, not to mention the possibility of compromising rights already guaranteed by the existing constitution.