Why they are afraid
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
02-15-2008

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Once again, bills that would allow the people of Alabama to vote on whether to hold a convention to rewrite the state's antiquated Constitution have been introduced in the House and the Senate.

Once again, convention opponents are preparing their defense. Expecting this opposition, Speaker Pro Tempore Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, who introduced the bill in the House, remarked, "my problem has been that I don't know what they are afraid of."

It's obvious that Newton is not being serious, and that he knows those who oppose a vote on a constitutional convention are afraid that if that vote is held, they, the opponents, would lose.

And if they lost, they are afraid that a constitutional convention might draw up a document that would take from them the historical advantages that have made their special interests so special.

The Alabama Farmers' Federation, along with timber and mining and other propertied interests, are afraid that they would lose the tax breaks that over the years they have enshrined in the Constitution.

The Alabama Education Association, which has opposed a convention by not supporting it, is afraid it will lose those earmarks that guarantee income and sales taxes to the Education Trust Fund, even though the AEA surely knows that when the economy goes sour, earmarking hurts more than it helps.

Legislators themselves are afraid that if the Constitution is rewritten to give more control to local government, then legislators will lose the clout they have back home and will not be able to hold local legislation hostage at the behest of the special interests that oppose it.

The Constitution is a house of cards based on the belief that certain groups deserve special treatment, and they are afraid that if a convention is held that special treatment won't be included in the new document.

Opponents of a constitutional convention are afraid that a new document will create a system under which the people of Alabama will become the special interest.

That is why they oppose a convention.

Rep. Demetrius Newton knows it. He's just too polite to say it.

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