Skip to comments.Archdiocese backs constitutional convention [Hartford, CT]
Posted on 10/21/2008 5:35:03 AM PDT by CT-Freeper
HARTFORD -- The archbishop of Hartford sent the word out at Sunday Masses: Vote "yes" for a constitutional convention on Election Day.
Every parish bulletin in the Archdiocese of Hartford included a statement of support from Archbishop Henry J. Mansell and the state's other Catholic bishops last weekend.
The Catholic dioceses of Bridgeport and Norwich and the Ukranian Catholic Diocese of Stamford are also planning appeals in their parishes, said Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference.
Every 20 years, a ballot question asks voters in Connecticut if they want to rework the state constitution. If a majority votes "yes," then the legislature must call a constitutional convention.
Competing coalitions are campaigning on the ballot question before the Nov. 4 election.
The Catholic bishops endorsed a constitutional convention after the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in a 4-3 ruling earlier this month.
"There is no doubt the bishops are united in their support for a 'yes' vote on the constitutional convention question," Culhane said.
The bishops, the conservative Family Institute of Connecticut and other opponents of gay marriage want to amend the constitution through a ballot initiative to define marriage as the union of a man and woman only.
Other advocates of direct democracy want to propose ballot questions on capping local property taxes, eminent domain, a three-strikes-and-you're-out law, the state income tax, recall of elected officials, term limits and more.
The anti-convention coalition includes gay rights groups and supporters of same-sex marriage, but it also involves organized labor, religious groups and clergy, Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, public school superintendents and the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits.
On Monday, a statewide association of cities and towns urged voters to vote "no."
"Based on other states' experience, permitting citizens initiatives and referenda often empowers monied interests with extreme views. Such initiative and referenda are costly and usurp the authority of the governor and the General Assembly," said James J. Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
The lobbying group doesn't want voters to impose a property tax cap through ballot initiative, or bar towns and cities from taking property through eminent domain for economic development, for example.
The organized opposition to a constitutional convention is raising money through a political action committee, Vote No: Protect Our Constitution.
The committee has raised nearly $830,000, including $315,000 from the Connecticut Education Association, $325,000 from the National Education Association and $75,000 from the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut.
"Obviously, we are up against a giant, liberal machine, and I think they are worried," said Matthew M. Daly, chairman of the Connecticut Constitutional Convention Campaign.
Daly's group has reported raising only $11,410.
On its shoestring budget, lawn signs are the only advertising that the pro-convention PAC can afford. It has spent slightly more on $2,800 on these placards.
Daly said the other side's pricy advertising campaign isn't tilting public opinion. "It is a dead heat," he insisted.
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Let me pose this question: would/could a constitutional convention be called to do a complete re-write of the state constitution? Or, would it be called just to re-write specific parts of the constitution?
The 1965 CT Constitution slipped in a provision guaranteeing a “free” public education to be available to every child which existed in neither the 1818 nor the 1955 constitutions.