NEWS: Watchdog group releases ad against constitutional convention


Image taken from the Reject Question 3 ad

By Sam Wroblewski

Citizens for Responsible Government have launched a new website and video to urge Rhode Islanders to vote against a constitutional convention.

The ad, titled Reject Question 3, asserts that a constitutional convention could open the floodgates to wealthy, out-of-state special interest groups who would seek to reverse social changes in Rhode Island.

“A constitutional convention presents a significant threat to civil rights, women’s reproductive freedom, gay rights, immigrant rights, worker rights, and more. Once a convention meets, there are no limits on the issues it can address,” said CFRG spokesperson Pablo Rodriguez in a statement.

The group acknowledges that while a Constitutional Convention can improve government structure, it can also act as a catalyst for social harm. As an example, the group points to the Ocean State’s last constitutional convention in 1986 where an amendment was proposed to define life as beginning at conception.

However proponents of a constitutional convention say the social issues argument is a straw man.

“I think it’s ironic that the entrenched interests in the state who are trying to keep the status quo are scaring people away from a constitutional convention” said Gary Sasse of Renew RI.

Renew RI is a coalition of individuals who advocate changing the state’s constitution to fix the broken political system in Rhode Island. Sasse says the social issues argument has no merit since the voters control how the constitution is changed.

“The delegates are popularly elected and would reflect the interests of the people of Rhode Island,” said Sasse.

Sasse elaborated that Rhode Island has come a long way socially since 1986, and the issues would reflect the state’s current culture. Additionally, he said many of the social rights listed in the video are protected at the Federal level and wouldn’t be infringed upon by a convention.

“Everyone involved with Renew RI will take a pledge to select delegates who will not bring up social issues,” promised Sasse.

The Rhode Islanders are allowed to vote on a convention every ten years.