Troubling things about amending the state constitution

In thinking about the Amendment One debate today, I’m struck by two troubling items:

1. A constitutional amendment imposes a legal preference of the current generation upon future generations. Regardless of the issue at hand, an amendment to the state constitution should not be the sort of thing that can happen with the assent of a mere majority of voters, as is allowed in the state constitution. Granted, getting the proposed amendment to a vote requires passing a significant hurdle of mustering three-fifths of the members of each house in the General Assembly, but even so the process seems too flippant for such a serious action as amending the state constitution.

2. Furthermore, because it is a serious action with the power to affect all residents, present and future, it should not be placed before voters during a primary election, which traditionally has much lighter turnout than a major election in November (estimates are this primary will have about 25 percent turnout).

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

Reader Comments

  • Skydaver

    The theocratic thugs that got this amendment onto the ballot used all the dirty tricks available to them, specifically putting it on a primary rather than a general election. They call themselves christian, but their actions could not be further from the teachings of Jesus.

  • Mitch Kokai

    It’s worth noting that the Republicans pushing this amendment did not want to place it on the primary ballot. They wanted the amendment placed on the general election ballot.

    The only way N.C. House Republicans could get the requisite Democratic support to move the amendment forward was to agree to put the measure on the primary ballot.

    This fact, of course, does not refute Jon’s point. By his reasoning, amendment supporters should not have agreed to the compromise. They should have waited until they could get enough votes to put the measure on a general election ballot.

    But this information does refute the notion of “theocratic thugs” using “dirty tricks.” Republican amendment supporters pushed for a November vote. When that above-board, public effort fell short, they accepted a May vote as a compromise.