Alex Gimarc: In support of a constitutional convention

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By ALEX GIMARC

It’s that time again.  Our once-a-decade opportunity as Alaskans to hold a constitutional convention is on the November ballot as Ballot Measure No. 1 – Shall there be a constitutional convention?   This question is built into the state constitution in Article 2, Constitutional Conventions, Constitutional Amendments, Sec. 15.50.070.

The question first hit the ballot in the 1970 election. It narrowly passed. But the state judiciary got themselves involved, taking exception with the language of the ballot initiative and summarily threw out the results of the vote. Essentially, the state courts decided that Alaskan voters didn’t understand what they were voting for, a standard they conveniently abandoned in 2020 with Prop 2, the 30+ page rewrite of state election law.

The second time around in 1972, the question failed roughly 2:1, about the same vote in the four subsequent times it was on the ballot.

This time around, it appears that battle has finally been joined, with dark money from the Soros-backed Sixteen Thirty Fund funding near continuous ads in opposition to a possible convention since Sept. 1. I thought 2020’s Prop 2 was supposed to make all that disappear.  Apparently not.

Other, local organizations have formed in support and opposition to a possible convention.  On the pro convention side, these include Republicans and the former head of Alaska Right to Life.  In opposition, we have a list of all the usual big government suspects, including but not limited to various unions, numerous cities, numerous commfish organizations, and any number of non-profits, none of which have been historically in support of a balanced budget, a smaller, less intrusive, or more responsive state government.

The list of those in opposition all by itself makes a convincing argument to support having a convention.

The campaign in opposition at this point seems (like the Petola congressional campaign for November) to be using abortion as their wedge issue, arguing that if such a convention is held, the right to privacy created by the Alaska Supreme Court out of thin air, channeling their inner Brennan and Blackmum (1973 Roe v. Wade authors).  I believe this is dead wrong, as the Supreme Court Dodd opinion specifically throws the entire question back to the state legislatures, rather than state courts.  

On the political right, the most vociferous supporters of a convention are those who would enshrine the PFD permanently into the state constitution.

From my perspective, this is incredibly high-stakes poker, for if we open the constitution up with a convention, literally anything can happen from a complete rewrite to proposal of some unknown number of constitutional amendments.  Those of us on the political right will be playing at a disadvantage, as we do not organize or show up in massive numbers like the political left does.  The most recent demonstration of this was the end of the Redistricting Board cycle earlier this year.

If we vote to pass this, We. Must. Show. Up. when time comes for a convention.

My position in support of this puts me in opposition to some very respected people on my side of the political fence. I understand the concern. I really do. Still, there are some very significant things that need to be addressed that will not make it through the legislative process with the government as it currently is structured and operating.  

One example would be how to put the state judiciary back into its constitutional box. Over the last few years, judges rewrote election laws on the fly, picked and chose which ballot initiatives they wanted to proceed, and earlier this year even took for themselves the power of the purse, finding a gubernatorial spending veto unconstitutional. This must end, and the only way I know of to end it is via constitutional convention. There are other issues, equally important to their advocates on both sides of the political fence.

My guess that the product of a convention would be some unknown number of proposed amendments presented to Alaskan voters for approval. Alaskan voters will have the final say. I fully expect this to be fought every step of the way in state and federal court (lawfare).

From here, I believe it is time for a convention. A quick look at the opposition should easily tell us who is benefiting from the status quo.  Hint:  it isn’t the average Alaskan, who is supposed to be in charge in this state.    

Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.

25 COMMENTS

    • I’m proudly bleating. Opening the constitution and electing delegates by the current voter fraud networks would result in a leftist constitution. No PFD, no line item veto, mandatory union labor. Mail in voting in perpetuity. It would be the biggest self own in the history of conservatives.

  1. Don’t play with fire until we have the correct mix in Juneau so with that said it ain’t going to happen. The left will outplay the dumb GOP.

    • Yup. I can’t believe that these people think the constitutional delegates would be more conservative than the legislature. If anything they would probably be more leftist.

  2. Good to see Alex still has no journalistic integrity. Just more biased nonsense

    A convention opens the door for the nutjobs like Dunleavy to wreck Alaskas future, more opportunity to give everything away to outside parties, and just undo what makes Alaska a better place to live

    Vote no on 1 if you believe in Alaska and Alaskans coming first today and tomorrow

    • Good to see that Alex has you actually thinking. Now if only you could open the TWO ears you have and learn to listen to the actual truth. Go to a board or commission meeting in the city you live in to see what we are fighting for.
      We are being brainwashed to think we should not fight for our rights. You made your own point.
      Dunkeavy is stuck picking judges from a pool of candidates sent by the alaska bar, he does not even get to pick from the pool of actual lawyers in our state, can you guess the political makeup of this commission? Pinko commies,giving us commie judges…
      Get iver yourself, educate yourself, then comment again.

    • Not true. Various campaigns in Alaska in which so-called “dark money” flowed in to influence the race resulted in loss to the dark dough folks, e.g., the cruise ship initiative where the citizens won in spite of a pile of money coming into Alaska from Outside to foil the citizen’s initiative. Or look at the lousy campaign run by Al Gross who had gobs of Outside money and still got smoked. Good messaging by a reasonable candidate coupled with superior execution often will yield favorable results when contrasted with a narrowly focused candidate with harbors shrill views.

  3. Alex,

    What say you about how we elect “Republican” majorities to the legislature and yet we are ruled by Democrat coalition governments? What do you expect is going to happen when we vote for a con-con and the delegates turn out to be the same kind of con-men and con-women as our legislators? What happens when they put to a vote of the same people who elect “Republican” legislators who legislate from the left and the votes are to grow government even more, to spend even more, to further change our election laws, to impose a stronger judiciary, to infringe further upon our rights, and to get rid of the Permanent Fund in it’s entirety?

    Like the idea of a con-con, I especially like the idea that we get to vote on each potential amendment or wholesale change. I don’t particularly like that the same electorate that voted in Prop 2 or that keeps sending “Republican” legislators as a majority to only serve as the minority party while the minority serves as the majority will be electing the delegates and voting on any potential changes. Is there a reason to think that the electorate as a whole is ready for this or even able to handle the responsibility of being an informed electorate?

    • You bring up some compelling arguments Steve-O. However, the electorate as a whole will probably get worse before it gets better. I believe it is worth it to go with a con-con because if the Alaskan voters don’t fix what is wrong in this State now, tomorrow may be too late! The left coast of the U.S. wants to bring Alaska into their leftist dominion for good and are pouring millions into this State to thwart us from correcting all the unconstitutional crap they have placed into our lives. A con-con is the only way in my opinion to overcome the Benedict Arnolds we have in our legislature and the corrupt paid for judges that give leftist policies a pass while they block anything that gives power to the people. The Republicans in our legislature that vote with Democrats to pass egregious violations of our rights as Americans and find new ways to destroy retirements through tax and spend policies that do not have our consent must be reigned in by the people they refuse to represent. The people have the power to alter the course of big government corporatocracies, they just need to reclaim it. RINOS are just Democrats in sheep’s clothing and they do not have a moral backbone to adhere to their oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The people must reclaim what is rightfully theirs as codified in the U.S. Constitution.

  4. There’s nothing a Republican Governor or legislature can do, that a leftist Judiciary can’t undo. This is the crux of the argument. The only reason “enshrining” the PFD by use of this mechanism, is even an idea, is because of the unconstitutional legislative action to change the payout, ruled constitutional by a leftist judiciary. Just like when the legislature and the Governor, hearing the will of the people,are it law that tax payer dollars would not go to fund abortion, and again the judiciary overruled them all. Or when the recall effort, which met none of the constitutional requirements, was allowed to go through, for political reasons by this AKSC, or when the signature verification on mail in ballots was waived by the leftists on the AKSC who know voter fraud is the only way they can get their people in and their laws past. Time and time again, it comes back to the Supreme Court in Alaska, which is effectively set up by the attorneys guild. The only way to change how these leftists are appointed to rule over us by their leftists trade organization is if the people have the guts to stand up and change it.

    They won’t, as evidenced by comments here and by how so many were so easily duped by language and PR campaigns like Prop 1 in 20’…so the left will continue to rule Alaska.

  5. Memo to AG, the Alaska Constitution is the best State Constitution in the USA, the only change Alaska needs is better Governors. Go to Las Vegas if you want to play high stakes poker

  6. I have read everything I can find about this, and when I saw that a major supporter against the convention is this sixteen-thirty non profit in DC, I googled them. See for yourself. Why is “dark money” being pumped into Alaska ? It’s a can of worms, but just that confirmed my decision to vote yes.

  7. Until our election integrity issues are addressed a Constitutional Convention would be a very dangerous endeavor. Having said that, there appears to be little to no support in the Administration or legislature, to tackle the issue.

  8. The fear in these comments is palatable.

    Alaskans love whining about the out of control state government. But give them a chance to take control, they do a Dunleavy. Wet themselves and hide.

  9. The only way to regain control of our basic rights and freedom both at the state and federal level is via constitutional convention. Otherwise our elected officials have and will continue to chip away at our freedom while our government continues it’s never ending expansion. Obviously the socialists can attempt to alter the constitution(s) to ensure our servitude becomes eternal. At the federal level the states vote on constitutional amendments while the people vote for amendments here in Alaska. As such we need to ensure that we the people are educated to fully understand what the vote actually represents, unlike the rank voting proposition which was and still is confusing.

  10. What is process that is due? When we furtively “became” a state and wrote a state “constitution” it had to be ratified after for acceptability to Congress as a US Constitution compliant state. I believe another Congressional review after we “redo” or cure non-US Constitution compliant deficiencies in the state constitution which segregate Alaskans from functionality of a guaranteed republic form of government is required. Actually, many states need this review to strengthen God-given liberties on this continent if anyone would like to keep this republic in this day and age.

  11. Might be best to repair Alaska’s election system before voting on something as profound as her Constitution.
    .
    Tilting the system to elect the occasional wayward legislator is one thing, but blindly trusting Alaska’s current, easily corruptible election system in a statewide vote which could make far-reaching changes to the Constitution seems like a really bad idea.

  12. There is no guarantee that a constituional convention would address the PFD at all, let alone in a way that makes the majority of Alaskans happy. It would be opening Pandora’s Box… playing with fire… pick your metaphor.

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