Democracy loses another round
From the Anniston Star Editorials
In our opinion
05-03-2007

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This looked like the year that the Legislature would vote to allow Alabamians to decide if they wanted a convention to write a new Constitution. It didn't happen. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, pulled the proposal Tuesday when he realized that he did not have the votes on a procedural measure that had to pass to bring the convention plan to the floor.

Some convention supporters say a last-minute campaign by the Alabama Farmers Federation caused fence-sitters to join the opposition. Given ALFA's love affair with the current Constitution and its fear that agriculture might lose the advantages it has gained over the years if a new document is written, that may well be the case.

Newton, his bill pulled for the time being, can bring it up again later in the session — if he can change a few minds. What we have is a case where our most entrenched special interests are afraid that a popularly elected constitutional convention might decide that they are not so special.

ALFA is hardly the only one that falls into this category. Rather than submit their case to the people, they would rather “let” the Legislature change the Constitution article by article.

Of course they would. Thanks to our Constitution, these interests have so much power in the Legislature that they can shape which articles will and will not be rewritten and what the new wording will be.

One of the most frequently heard arguments against a convention is that it will be dominated by special interests that will write a Constitution for themselves and not for the people. But if you want to see special interests writing a new Constitution, just watch the Legislature when it starts working on one. If it ever does.

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