June 12, 2017: Vote on New York State Constitutional Convention Tops Agenda of State Bar Association Meeting

The New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates will vote Saturday, June 17 on whether to support a November 7 statewide referendum that would authorize a state Constitutional Convention to study and recommend possible changes in how state government operates.

“We expect a spirited discussion of the arguments for and against a Constitutional Convention,” said State Bar President Sharon Stern Gerstman. She emphasized that, to date, the Association has taken no position on the November 7 statewide referendum.

A “yes” vote is recommended by the Association's Committee on the New York State Constitution.

Since its creation in 2015, the committee has conducted a thorough examination of the state Constitution. It heard from more than two dozen experts, met on numerous occasions, issued five substantive reports and participated in educational symposiums, webinars and continuing legal education programs that have contributed to public discourse about a Constitutional Convention. The fifth of the committee’s reports, which will be considered at the Association’s meeting in Cooperstown Saturday, examines the pros and cons of a possible constitutional convention, or “ConCon.”

The committee, chaired by Henry M. Greenberg (Greenberg Traurig), said it carefully weighed the potential risks and benefits of calling a Constitutional Convention.

The committee concluded that New York State “should not forfeit this rare, generational opportunity to modernize and significantly improve the Constitution that forms the foundation of state govern-ment. Accordingly, the committee recommends that the State Bar support the convention call, primarily because a convention presents the one practical opportunity this generation will likely have to modernize and restructure New York's court system.”

The committee's 33-page report is available at: www.nysba.org/constitutionreport0617.

The committee's four previous reports addressed: creating a preparatory commission; the “Home Rule” provision governing the relative powers of state and local governments; the “forever wild” provision and Conservation Article; and the structure of the state Judiciary. Copies of those reports are available at: www.nysba.org/nyconstitution/.

The 72,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.

Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services
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