Constitutional convention, at any cost?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I recently visited the Web site

This site lists six reasons for a re-write of our 1901 constitution.

I have reviewed the six objections to the current constitution, and initially was going to explore each individually, but instead I have decided to evaluate House Bill 98, the proposal to soon come before the legislature mandating a new constitutional convention.

How well does the bill represent the citizens of our state? You will see that I am opposed to H.B. 98. This does not mean I am opposed to a new constitution.

The selection of delegates to the proposed constitutional convention will be as follows:

uFrom each House of Representatives district as the districts exist at the time of the delegate election based on the most recent census for a total of 210 delegates.

uThere shall be one male and one female delegate elected from each district.

If you are pleased with the performance of the Democratically controlled Alabama House of Representatives for the last hundred years, you will love this method of delegate selection.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House 62 to 43, although most political analysts agree the actual ratio of voters throughout the state is closer to even.

If the state&8217;s voters are about equally divided along party lines, how is our legislature so lopsided in favor of the Democrats? The answer is simple: Gerrymandering.

The party in power draws the House and Senate district lines to their advantage. They use every scheme possible to create as many Democratic districts as possible, stretching the Justice Department guidelines to the limit.

As a result of this intentional distortion of the political representation of the state, our legislature is not an accurate reflection of the political philosophy of the citizens.

H.B. 98 will perpetuate this distortion.

H.B. 98 uses the current House districts to select delegates to the convention.

Although the candidates will run without party labels, the voters do have party labels, and the campaigning will have an underlying political alignment.

In the end result, the delegates attending the constitutional convention will be overwhelmingly Democratic.

Democrats and Republicans have clear cut differences in their political philosophies, and a fair and balanced convention outcome demands that the delegates be fair and balanced.

You can&8217;t take politics out of politics, and electing delegates to a constitutional convention is a political event. The end result will be partisan participants in an ostensibly non-partisan gathering.

Under this plan, the make up of the constitutional convention will be pretty much the same as the Democratically dominated Alabama House of Representatives.

Do you believe the current legislature is bogged down by conflicts of interest, double dipping and nepotism?

If you have little confidence in the current dominant party, then you will agree with me:

this approach to rewriting our constitution will only perpetuate minority rule.

For that reason, I am opposed to Representative Newton&8217;s bill.

Jim McClendon serves the 50th district. He can be reached via his Web site,