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					Changes to the State Constitution Constitutional Conventions And Ballot Initiatives

John Doyle Political Science 2622 State and Local Government

Professor Easton

The Constitution of the United States is the Supreme Law of the Land. Therefore it should follow that the Constitutions of individual states are the Supreme Law of each individual state. Should they ever be changed? The Constitution of the State of Connecticut says that the great and essential principle of liberty and free government may be recognized and established. It declares that all men are equal, people have a right to alter government, religious freedom, no discrimination, freedom of speech, no wrongful charging of a crime, that one’s home should be their own and privacy should be a reasonable right. That property should be respected, the court system be fair, gatherings to discuss grievances be allowed and the right to defend oneself.1 These are all discussed in the First Article of the Constitution of the State of Connecticut. There are essential human rights that no-one should ever be without. The Second Article discussed how power should be distributed to create a system of checks and balances. The Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, of which each is discussed in the third, fourth, and fifth articles respectively. Article six discusses the qualifications of electors, article seven is about religion, article eight education, article nine impeachments, article ten general provisions and article eleven is about the amendments to the constitution. The Amendments to the State Constitution are added improvements to further define the interpretation of the Constitution of Connecticut. There are 47 amendments added by 1955 and since then 12 more have been adopted. These were mostly to make the State Constitution ethically in balance with the progress of the rest of society, and to make Connecticut a leader in morality in the United States.2

There are two ways to change a constitution. One is through a constitutional convention and the other is through ballot initiatives.3 The Connecticut Constitution is a very powerful paper and it should follow that any changes to it should be thoroughly reviewed. The Thirteenth Article of the Constitution of the State of Connecticut discusses this. A convention must be held if voters are asked, and they approve the measure. The General Assembly then follows the constitutional process for convening the convention. It does have to be 20 years from the date of the last convention.4 This gives time for politicians and constituents to accurately think of the consequences. The changing of a Constitution is a big decision; it affects everyone in the state. The four sections of article thirteen explain how a constitutional convention should be carried out. In 2008 there is a Constitutional Convention. This is to discuss the possibility of opening the Connecticut State Constitution to possible amendments to further define and attempt to protect people’s rights. One huge debate is about the definition of gay marriage.5 In 2004 there were eleven states who voted on a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage. This meant that these states would be amending their constitutions.6 The California Supreme Court struck down the state ban against same-sex marriage in May of 2008.7 On October 10th of 2008 the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut ruled in a 43 decision that same-sex couples do have a right to marry.8 However, since the Constitutional Convention is scheduled for the November ballet, it could be voted upon to define marriage and that would mean the Supreme Court ruling would be reversed. Those who want same sex marriage do not want a Constitutional Convention for fear of losing the right to marry. Those who are against same sex marriage want the Convention to define

what a marriage is, so that the right will be lost.9 There are still many states that have bans in place and few who have stepped up and had that decision reversed. This decision about same-sex marriage shows why constitutional conventions and ballet initiatives are so important. Another action was with a sports team out west. In 1997 Paul Allen made a ballot initiative, this meant that he had open for vote an option to re-write the constitution. This led to his football team, the Seattle Seahawks, being allowed to get a new stadium at the cost of the taxpayers. This is a problem. That is because the Constitution should not be used for those who can make changes to it to further their agenda. It should be used to protect our rights so that we may be treated as equals.10 This opens up the question about if the Constitution of States should be open for adjustments. The place to begin is with the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers. These were discussions, writings and some arguments about the formation of the US Constitution. The Anti-Federalist paper Number 9 is titled “A Consolidated Government is a Tyranny” by Montezuma. He discusses the way politicians will always think of themselves as better than the constituents. The election of certain representatives every so many years makes it so the lower class and representatives will not mix. But also, it will make the reverse true. Those who are knowledgeable in politics will be influenced to make decisions that are not in the best interest of everyone.11 His view would have been that these ballet initiatives and constitutional conventions should not be allowed. They would give too much power to those who are not educated. It is not that they shouldn’t have a right, but that some people are leaders and others followers. This is responded to in the Federalist number 9. It is “The Union as a Safeguard against Domestic Faction and Insurrection for the Independent Journal”. This was written

by Alexander Hamilton. He discusses what a Confederacy is. An association of two or more states into one state, as long as the individuality of the individual states remains the same. He also mentions how the US Constitution would be a Federal Government and not a Confederacy. The rights of the individual states would be lost.12 As far as ballet initiatives and constitutional conventions are concerned Hamilton would support them. His view would be that they would define each state as an individual. That would bring the United States closer to being just that. A Unity of States, and not an entirely Federal Government. These deliberations are continued on by another two articles. In the Federalist Number 10 James Madison discusses several thoughts. One question is whether or not an overbearing majority should have the right to put laws over a minority. There are two points he makes, they are if causes should be removed or if they should be controlled. Liberty cannot exist without factions and vice-versa. They are the yin and yang of politics. The other point is that the parties should know their power and use that to prevail. The question here is what is better? More representatives mean better representation but more of a chance of bad people taking control. Fewer representatives mean less representation but less chance of corruption, even thought that means the majority has a rule over the minority.13 As far as citizens being able to vote on the constitution, he would argue that is bad. There would be more of a chance that the corrupt people would take control, since there would be more of them. This is further discussed in the Anti-Federalist papers number 10 by a simple Farmer. He states three classes of men who should be looked at. Those who had the fortune and reputation to step up in the revolution and take a stand against Great Britain. The people who want equal law and would sacrifice for it. The second class is those who think

everyone is an idiot but themselves and can do it better. There are the most of these types of men. The third is those who follow the old laws and believe in the rigidity of government. He believes that these will lead to only two types.14 The one that will not survive are those who want a rigid government, those who wanted to follow the old laws of England. This farmer’s opinion would be that any changes to the constitution should be allowed. This is a right that every person should have, that is the ability to decide what the laws and decisions are. This should show how important changes to a constitution can be. Changes to the US Constitution affect all the states, but changes to the State Constitutions are more important. These changes keep the United States as a unified federation of states; it is kind of a check on federal government power. The changes can come about by ballot initiative or constitutional convention. Same-sex marriage is about to split the decisions of the states in half. The possibility that this could go to the Supreme Court is great, and then the decisions of some states would be not consistent with federal law. There is also the football stadium, bought by taxpayers. There is no doubt that this is questionable. The Federalist papers have some interesting points. Hamilton would have said yes to constitutional changes. They would keep the states as individual powers. But, Madison would say no. The reason would be that there would be more of a chance for bad decisions to happen. Then the Anti-Federalist paper writers would have contrasting views as well. Montezuma would disagree with constitutional changes. There are certain people in charge for a reason and they must lead. However, a simple farmer would disagree, saying it is a right every citizen should have. A conflict still undecided today.


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