This idea was once again promoted yesterday in an interview that Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican had with Governor Terry Branstad:

Maybe the most surprising part of the interview was the when Branstad talked about another option that Iowans have to overturn the court’s decision, the constitutional convention which is on the ballot in 2010.

Branstad said that as Governor, he would offer to preside over such a convention. While groups like IFPC are afraid to explore the constitutional convention option because they concede that Mike Gronstal will remain in his leadership role, Branstad thinks the idea is worth exploring. He also added that, no matter what comes out of the constitutional convention, the people of Iowa still must vote on each proposed change to the state’s constitution.

The constitutional convention is by far the quickest route to overturning the Court’s decision on gay marriage. It’s also conceivable that, should Republicans and traditional marriage advocates opt to go down that road, other issues could also be addressed. In addition to marriage, groups like Iowans for Tax Relief could work on amending the constitution so that it includes a 99% spending limitation. Second amendment advocates could strengthen gun rights, and individual property rights could also be addressed. This would also be an opportunity to constitutionally limit the power of the courts so as to prevent the courts from attempting to make law in the future.

The Iowa Constitution provides the electorate every 10 years the chance to vote in favor of holding a Constitutional Convention to offer amendments.  Article X, Section 3 reads:

At the general election to be held in the year one thousand nine hundred and seventy, and in each tenth year thereafter, and also at such times as the general assembly may, by law, provide, the question, "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution, and propose amendment or amendments to same?" shall be decided by the electors qualified to vote for members of the general assembly; and in case a majority of the electors so qualified, voting at such election, for and against such proposition, shall decide in favor of a convention for such purpose, the general assembly, at its next session, shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such convention, and for submitting the results of said convention to the people, in such manner and at such time as the general assembly shall provide; and if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments, by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the general assembly, voting thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of the constitution of this state. If two or more amendments shall be submitted at the same time, they shall be submitted in such a manner that electors may vote for or against each such amendment separately.

The iffy part of this plan is who gets to decide the delegates?  The General Assembly does.  Who currently controls the General Assembly?  Well you see where I am going with this this.  Right now Gronstal and company have the ability to appoint the majority of the delegates.  You see it would be a great opportunity for liberals to push for amendments of their own as well.

We don’t know how the 2010 elections will turn out for Iowa Republicans.  Democrats could still hold one or both chambers.  That’s the rub.  Ultimately though, the people still decide as each amendment written during the convention still has to be ratified by the people.  But would a marriage amendment even come out of Democrat majority convention?

I wouldn’t hold my breath.  I’m not sure I’m inclined to want to roll the dice either.  This further emphasizes the importance of legislative elections.  We can’t be solely focused on the gubernatorial race.

6 comments
  1. The nice thing, as I start to think about this option, is that if proves we are consistent in believing in the people to do the right thing by the Constitution of Iowa. The chances of a labor amendment or some other left-wing amendment passing a popular vote are next to none, and the fact that a convention would be voted into existence would be a mandate on the convention to produce a marriage amendment for popular vote. The refusal by delegates to produce one would be politically disastrous for the current leadership. Just my initial thoughts. Yours?

    1. @Eric Goranson, You make a good point to it being a mandate on marriage. It would be politically disastrous I think. I think you are also right about left-wing amendments.

      Do you think that if we had a Constitutional Convention pass we’d still end up with a Democratic majority in the House (I’m not sure the GOP can take back the Senate)?

      I do like the idea of a Constitutional Convention, it is just some of the unknowns that concern me. That doesn’t mean I won’t end up supporting and advocating for it later.

  2. The Iowa code says:

    …the general assembly, at its next session, shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such convention, …

    As I read it that means that delegates would be elected — not appointed by the legislature. However, there is no precedent as to how such elections would occur. I’d be willing to give it a shot. If we really believe that:

    All political power is inherent in the people.

    Then we should not fear the people’s decision.
    .-= HawkeyeGOP´s last blog ..It is a great day to be a Republican =-.

    1. @HawkeyeGOP, Well my point is whomever is in the majority will have the advantage i.e. delegates.

      David, you are right all power is inherit in the people.

      The problem is if you end up with a bunch of delegate who believe “all power is inherit within the government.”

      A statist run convention could be a nightmare.

      I agree with you in principle though.

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