Copies of the Alaska State Constitution were available outside the Lt. Governor’s office on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Copies of the Alaska State Constitution were available outside the Lt. Governor’s office on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Opinion: There is no need for a constitutional convention

What are the odds a constitutional convention will be anything other than a circus?

  • By Joe Geldhof
  • Thursday, August 18, 2022 3:38pm
  • Opinion

I can think of a number of issues we Alaskans should address and then deal with that would make this wonderful place we call home a better place to live.

A constitutional convention doesn’t make my “to do” list, and if you think about what we need in terms of civic discussion and action on pressing matters, it likely won’t make your list either.

Right now, there is plenty of evidence floating around supporting the idea that we live in a highly charged political climate. Partisan politics, political back-stabbing and chaos are often the norm.

What we don’t have enough of is abundant congenial discussion and a mature manner of conducting the business of our state government. Which is the leading reason why voting to convene a constitutional convention this fall would be a mistake. If we can’t conduct our state government in a sensible manner, what are the odds a constitutional convention will be anything other than a circus?

Alaska’s current constitution is good. For example, our constitution strongly preserves and protects individual privacy. Our state constitution is unique in requiring that our abundant renewable resources are managed according to sustained yield principles. Overall, Alaska’s constitution is a remarkably fine document that protects our personal liberties and promotes personal, community and economic opportunity.

The call whether to conduct a constitutional convention comes before the voters every 10 years. It’s on the ballot this November. All of us have a chance to weigh in on whether to convene a convention.

I’m voting no to avoid chaos. I’m voting no because convening a convention will open the door for narrow-minded special interest groups bent on altering our most important governmental document. I’m voting no because we already have a way to amend our state constitution, when necessary, without running the risk of changing the parts of the constitution that work.

I’m voting no because I don’t want to waste millions of dollars of public funds on a convention that will be loaded with political partisans and hacks. I’m voting no on the constitutional convention because of the uncertainty that will last for years while the delegates fiddle around with schemes and ideas pushed by special interests and organizations from Outside who want to tell us how to live.

Our state constitution requires a vote on whether to hold a convention every 10 years. Just because the issue is on the ballot doesn’t make it a good idea. This is the wrong time to embark on an experiment to change the Alaska Constitution.

Vote no on the call for a constitutional convention this November.

• Joe Geldhof is a lawyer in Juneau, Alaska. He has argued a number of constitutional cases in the Alaska Supreme Court. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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