Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Larry Lessig Wants You to Want Us to Rewrite the Constitution

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, March 2 2010

Somehow this slipped beneath our radar until now. The deal is that Harvard's Larry Lessig is supplementing his Change Congress/Fix Congress First push with a more fundamental -- yet more provocative -- appeal: let's start a grassroots movement to call for a constitutional convention, as provided for in the Constitution, to rework the basic nature of the agreement between "the People" and Congress. Here, from CallAConvention.org, is Lessig's thinking behind why the time is well nigh to provoke state legislatures into calling a summit on rewriting the Constitution:

From the Tea Party Right to the Progressive Left, there is agreement that something fundamental has gone wrong. But I believe that our frustrations share a common source -- an exasperation with the broken state of our political system -- even as we disagree passionately on what to do about it.

The solution to that disagreement is democracy. We should begin the long discussion about how best to reform our democracy, to restore its commitment to liberty and a Republic, by beginning a process to amend the Constitution through the one path the Framers gave us that has not yet been taken -- a Convention.

For the Framers imagined a time when the government might be captured. And they created a mechanism to respond to that capture. If 2/3ds of the legislatures of the states demand it, Congress must call a convention. That convention then must meet and deliberate about amendments to the constitution. If it agrees, it then proposes amendments to the states. 3/4ths of the states must then ratify any amendment before becomes law. Thus, 12 states of 50 have the power to veto any change, meaning no change could happen unless it appealed to a solid group of Red States and a solid group of Blue. We are, today, beginning the process to call a convention.

In particular, what Lessig wants that constitutional convention to tackle would be an amendment to the Constitution that requires Congress to ensure that "the financing of federal elections does not produce any actual or reasonably perceived appearance of dependence, except upon the People," with a non-partisan commission acting as the people's watchdog on when money is creating unholy dependencies on Capitol Hill.

Of course, one way of lessening the impression that Congress is paid for by high-donors is to create a widespread base of small donors and making political funding processes more transparent -- two things that the Internet has proven to be pretty good at. But first things first: here's where you can sign up to support Lessig's call for a constitutional convention.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Creeping

Senator Al Franken's tough questions for Uber's CEO; how the NSA could make its phone metadata program permanent; global privacy groups launch a personal spyware catcher called Detekt; and much, much more. GO

Recreation.gov and other Govt Projects Move Toward Embracing New Digital Approach

A draft request for proposals for the revamping of Recreation.gov will include a requirement that reservation availability data be publicly accessible and that all proposals detail how they will enable third-party sales, as two members of the United States Digital Services have joined the government team overseeing the RFP, meeting some key demands of civic technologists and consumer oriented technology companies. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Ubermenschens

Surge-pricing in effect for Uber privacy violations; why "privacy" policies should be called "data usage" policies; pols silent on Uber mess; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Uber Falles

Uber exposed for plan to dig up dirt on journalist critics; sneaking a SOPA provision into the USA Freedom Act; high-speed free WiFi coming to NYC; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Differences

How to use Twitter to circumvent campaign coordination rules; the net neutrality debate keeps getting hotter; charting the gender balance at dataviz conference using dataviz; and much, much more. GO

More