Coalition Mounts Opposition To RI Constitutional Convention

Apr 30, 2014

Dozens of people gathered in Providence Wednesday to protest a proposed constitutional convention in Rhode Island. The debate whether to hold this convention comes up every 10 years.

Coalition members speak out against a constitutional convention in Rhode Island.
Credit John Bender

The constitutional convention gives Rhode Island voters an opportunity to change their state constitution.  Delegates outside the general assembly are chosen to represent districts across the state in a meeting to draft referenda that will appear at state-wide elections.

A coalition of non-profits and advocacy groups oppose such a convention. They say it provides an easy path for special interest and big money groups to have disproportionate sway in state politics. Hillary Davis works with the American Civil Liberties Union in Rhode Island.

“I think that it is a misnomer to believe that the constitutional convention is going to operate in a way that is any better than the general assembly.  Those outside interests are going to be there, those lobbyists are going to be there, and the convention delegates are not accountable to voters after the fact," said Davis.

Either the General Assembly or the Secretary of State has to put the constitutional convention on the ballot first. Then voters must approve it. The last constitutional convention was held in the mid-80’s.

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