The Constitution in Jeopardy

By Russ Feingold and Peter Prindiville

The Constitution in Jeopardy book cover
Added November 7, 2022

A former US senator reveals a far-right plot to radically change the laws of our land, and articulates a plan for how to handle it. Over the last two decades, a hushed, far-right effort to change the constitution through a convention--the nation's first ever--has inched through statehouses. And by most counts, activists only need to enlist a few more states to reach the constitutional requirement: two thirds of the states. A convention would be a watershed moment in American history. Just like Madison, Hamilton, and Franklin in Philadelphia over two centuries ago, delegates would exercise almost unfettered authority to draft amendments changing the contours of our fundamental law and civic life. Every contentious political and social issue could be on the table: limiting the powers of the federal government, creating or retiring constitutional rights and freedoms, and restructuring Congress or the Supreme Court. While the Framers considered the amendment power to be a cornerstone of our constitutional order, they left us no rules for how a convention would function. Activists have capitalized on this uncertainty and forged ahead with a wish list of radical proposals: onerous federal spending limitations; changes to our electoral system; and new state authority to veto federal laws. But this public list of intentions isn't binding. A convention could veer toward other troubling measures: abortion and gay marriage bans, for example. With their push for a constitutional convention, the right is poised to outmaneuver the left again. But in The Constitution in Jeopardy, former senator Russ Feingold and legal scholar Peter Prindiville throw light on this plan, and give the rest of the country a chance to respond. Should we try to stop a convention? Or, might this be an opportunity? Could amendment, whether initiated by Congress or a convention, be a promising way to address some of our country's most intractable problems, such as racial injustice, voter suppression, wealth inequality, and climate change? Distilling extensive legal and historical research, Feingold and Prindiville unveil a high-stakes plot, and chart a path forward through a perilous moment for our country.

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