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Flanders: state constitution requires an update

March 30, 2014

SMITHFIELD – “Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the (Rhode Island) constitution?”

That question will be on the ballot given to all voters in the November election.

Former R.I. Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders, for one, will answer that question in the affirmative.

“It has been almost 30 years since we’ve taken a close look at this document,” Flanders, who served as receiver to bring Central Falls out of bankruptcy, told a symposium at Bryant University’s Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership on Saturday. “Almost a whole generation of folks have come and gone, and we are in a fundamentally different world than we were back in the mid-1980s, when our constitution was last subject to a convention. The Internet didn’t exist as we know it now, cell phones, texting, all the modern things that have happened in the last 20 or 30 years. We’re in a new world so it is healthy, I think, to take a look at our fundamental legal document.”

Steven Brown, executive director of the RI ACLU, begs to differ.
The issues that generally come up when constitutional convention is proposed “are some of the most divisive, controversial, social, ideological issues there are – abortion, gay rights, same-sex marriage, anti-immigrant. We are deluding ourselves if we think we can hold a convention and not have those issues come to the floor.”

Full story appears on page A1 of Monday's Times and Monday's Call.


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