Obama's Ironic Legacy Might be That He Continued an Unconstitutional Act

 

by Walter Brasch

 

            The U.S. House of Representatives this week did something it should have done years ago—it blocked the continuation of three of the more controversial parts of the PATRIOT Act. The vote was 277–148 to continue the Act, but a 2/3 majority (284 of those voting) was necessary for the bill to move forward. The PATRIOT Act sections are scheduled to expire Feb. 28 unless further action is taken by Congress.

            The Republican leadership had placed the bill on an expedited agenda, believing it had the necessary votes. It didn't count on a loose coalition of liberals and extreme conservatives to oppose the Act. Twenty-six Republicans, including seven who are allied with the Tea Party, voted against the bill. Had those seven Tea Party members voted for the continuation, the bill would have passed.

            The PATRIOT Act was passed about six weeks after the 9/11 attacks. The 342-page bill was drafted in secret by the Bush Administration, had minimal discussion, and most members of Congress hadn't even read it when they voted for it. Only one of 100 senators and 66 of 435 representatives voted against it, claiming that it sacrificed Constitutional protections in order to give Americans a false sense of security. Most of the Act is non-controversial, an umbrella for previous federal law; the controversial parts taint the entire document.

            The PATRIOT Act's "sunset" clause required 16 of the most controversial parts to expire unless Congress renewed them before December 31, 2005. However, in July 2005, Congress voted to extend the entire law.

            The PATRIOT Act butts against the protections of six Constitutional amendments: the 1st (freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances), 4th (freedom from unreasonable searches), 5th (right against self-incrimination and due process), 6th (due process, the right to counsel, a speedy trial, and the right to a fair and public trial by an impartial jury), 8th (reasonable bail and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment), and 14th (equal protection guarantee for both citizens and non-citizens).

            The PATRIOT Act also violates Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to petition the courts to issue a writ of habeas corpus to require the government to produce a prisoner or suspect in order to determine the legality of the detention. Only Congress may order a suspension of the right of the writ, and then only in “Cases of Rebellion or Invasion.” Congress did not suspend this right; nothing during or subsequent to the 9/11 attack indicated either a rebellion or invasion under terms of the Constitution.

            Among the provisions of the PATRIOT Act, which 277 House members apparently believe is necessary for American security, is Section 215, which allows the government to seize all library records of any individual. Apparently, the government believes that reading is just another part of a wide terrorist conspiracy. A white-haired grandmother who checks out murder mysteries from the library could be a serial killer, according to the government's logic.

            Several federal court cases, including decisions by the Supreme Court, with most of its members politically conservative, ruled that provisions of the PATRIOT Act are unconstitutional. Implementation of those rulings are slow or under appeal.

              Among organizations that oppose the PATRIOT Act are the ACLU, American Bar Association, American Booksellers Association, American Library Association, and the National Council of Churches.  Among liberals who have led opposition to the Act are Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Among conservatives opposing the Act are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), who had been a U.S. attorney, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Among conservative organizations that oppose the PATRIOT Act are the American Conservative Union, Free Congress Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation.

            Some of society's denser citizens have claimed that not only must the nation sacrifice some of its civil liberties in order to defeat terrorism, but that they personally have never had their own rights suppressed. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of cases of persons whose civil liberties have been threatened. In only the first three years after the PATRIOT Act was placed into law, there were about 360 arrests, with only 39 convictions, half resulting in jail sentences of less than 11 months, indicating minor infractions. Reports from the inspector general of the Department of Justice revealed that the government had consistently exceeded its authority to investigate and prosecute civilians under guise of the PATRIOT Act. Numerous arrests for non-terrorist activity include a couple aboard a flight who were charged as terrorists for having engaged in "overt sexual activity," and a woman who was jailed three months in 2007 as a terrorist for raising her voice to a flight attendant.

            In March 2010, President Obama signed a one-year extension on the Act, and now says he wants the Act to continue through 2013.

            And that may be the worst part of the President's legacy. The constitutional law scholar and professor, who has strong beliefs for human rights but who has not been forceful in speaking out against the Act's most heinous sections, is now a leading proponent to extend the very document that conflicts with his principles and the nation's Bill of Rights.

 

[Dr. Brasch is author of the critically-acclaimed America's Unpatriotic Acts, the first book to look in-depth at the PATRIOT Act and its effect upon American citizens. The book is available through amazon.com, as are his 15 other books, most on history and contemporary social issues.]

 

 

My 1st Amendment Rights

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? - Mohandas Gandhi

One of the more frightening aspects of what happened at the Rand Paul debate and the other events where the teabaggers have allowed their true colors to show through physical assaults and verbal harassment is their sincere belief that they are defending the Constitution and the First Amendment specifically. Unfortunately, the First Amendment rights they are defending are only their rights and those who agree with them. Where are these defenders of freedom on the issue of the Islamic Center in New York or on the separation of Church and State?

It appears that the only rights they are willing to defend are the rights of the rich and the corporate elite to circumvent democracy through unlimited money, pollute, and ship jobs overseas. What these incidents clearly display to anyone willing to acknowledge it is that the outrage is not about the deficits, the overreach of government, or the immigration issue. It is clearly about “us” versus “them” and just like during the Vietnam War and the turmoil of the 60’s these folks have no qualms about using intimidation and physical coercion to try and stop the movement of time. If these folks are willing to stomp on a white female imagine what they are willing to do to minorities, Muslims, and the rest of “them”.

My question is how can a group of middle-aged and older white people be new? According to the false meme there were millions of middle-aged white Americans who were not voting or participating in the political process until now. This silent majority was only roused by the budget deficits and the socialist agenda of the Obama administration. So are we to believe that these are not the same cultural warriors from the past? These are the same folks who have always believed that they are the only interpreters and the arbitrator of what is right for America. Much the same as all fanatical groups throughout history they falsely believe that they have received some divine or supernatural insight and only those like them are able to receive it or be part of the group. This is not so bad if you are one of the enlightened ones, but it can be dangerous for those who don’t quite measure up because of race, gender, or religion.

What should be frightening to all Americans is not that there were two thugs who were willing to assault this woman. What is more troubling is that the crowd surrounding them was willing to allow it to happen. While they may not have actually had their foot on her head they did not find a problem with it happening. The crowd included women who were willing to stand by and watch this being done to another woman without questioning it or trying to intervene. How does the saying go the only thing evil requires is for good people to do nothing.

I am not one given to hyperbole or yelling fire in a crowded theater but as one who has lived through the turbulence and violence of a nation struggling with change it seems as though we are entering a similar period of polarization. It is strange how the same themes continue to appear in America. Back then it was also about patriotism and tribalism. You were either with us or you were with them. The wing-nuts have for decades disguised their intolerance and bigotry behind the flag and the Constitution. They have continually recreated themselves under different names and behind different issues, but their core mission has not changed. Their mission back then and today continues to be trying to roll back the clocks and to try to halt the inevitably of change.

The hope for the future of this democracy does not lie with the older generations. Every generation has to decide what values they stand for and are willing to fight for. For many of those of recent generations there has not been much they have considered worth fighting for. My hope is that with this rise in corporations undermining democracy through propagandists and unlimited campaign spending, with the rise of intolerance and bigotry towards Latinos and Muslims, and with the selling of the American middle-class to nations overseas that this generation will rise up and once again reclaim democracy for all Americans. Hopefully their love affair with “Wall Street” and the Gordon Gekko wannabes will realize that greed and short-term gratification is hollow.

Maybe this economic situation will wake up the true patriots just as the war and racism did during the 60’s. You see during the 60’s the true patriots were not the ones that supported the war or supported racism and bigotry. The true patriots were the ones who stood up and said we will not accept the status quo and that we reject your vision of America. Many of us are too old for this fight and the truth is it is not our fight. The future belongs to the young, not the old. The time has come for our youth to put down the game controllers, smart phones, and other distractions that are reducing personage to an image or a message on a screen and become engaged. It is your future that is being stolen.

"Man is more disposed to domination than freedom; and a structure of dominion not only gladdens the eye of the master who rears and protects it, but even its servants are uplifted by the thought that they are members of a whole, which rises high above the life and strength of single generations." - Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt

The Disputed Truth

My 1st Amendment Rights

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? - Mohandas Gandhi

One of the more frightening aspects of what happened at the Rand Paul debate and the other events where the teabaggers have allowed their true colors to show through physical assaults and verbal harassment is their sincere belief that they are defending the Constitution and the First Amendment specifically. Unfortunately, the First Amendment rights they are defending are only their rights and those who agree with them. Where are these defenders of freedom on the issue of the Islamic Center in New York or on the separation of Church and State?

It appears that the only rights they are willing to defend are the rights of the rich and the corporate elite to circumvent democracy through unlimited money, pollute, and ship jobs overseas. What these incidents clearly display to anyone willing to acknowledge it is that the outrage is not about the deficits, the overreach of government, or the immigration issue. It is clearly about “us” versus “them” and just like during the Vietnam War and the turmoil of the 60’s these folks have no qualms about using intimidation and physical coercion to try and stop the movement of time. If these folks are willing to stomp on a white female imagine what they are willing to do to minorities, Muslims, and the rest of “them”.

My question is how can a group of middle-aged and older white people be new? According to the false meme there were millions of middle-aged white Americans who were not voting or participating in the political process until now. This silent majority was only roused by the budget deficits and the socialist agenda of the Obama administration. So are we to believe that these are not the same cultural warriors from the past? These are the same folks who have always believed that they are the only interpreters and the arbitrator of what is right for America. Much the same as all fanatical groups throughout history they falsely believe that they have received some divine or supernatural insight and only those like them are able to receive it or be part of the group. This is not so bad if you are one of the enlightened ones, but it can be dangerous for those who don’t quite measure up because of race, gender, or religion.

What should be frightening to all Americans is not that there were two thugs who were willing to assault this woman. What is more troubling is that the crowd surrounding them was willing to allow it to happen. While they may not have actually had their foot on her head they did not find a problem with it happening. The crowd included women who were willing to stand by and watch this being done to another woman without questioning it or trying to intervene. How does the saying go the only thing evil requires is for good people to do nothing.

I am not one given to hyperbole or yelling fire in a crowded theater but as one who has lived through the turbulence and violence of a nation struggling with change it seems as though we are entering a similar period of polarization. It is strange how the same themes continue to appear in America. Back then it was also about patriotism and tribalism. You were either with us or you were with them. The wing-nuts have for decades disguised their intolerance and bigotry behind the flag and the Constitution. They have continually recreated themselves under different names and behind different issues, but their core mission has not changed. Their mission back then and today continues to be trying to roll back the clocks and to try to halt the inevitably of change.

The hope for the future of this democracy does not lie with the older generations. Every generation has to decide what values they stand for and are willing to fight for. For many of those of recent generations there has not been much they have considered worth fighting for. My hope is that with this rise in corporations undermining democracy through propagandists and unlimited campaign spending, with the rise of intolerance and bigotry towards Latinos and Muslims, and with the selling of the American middle-class to nations overseas that this generation will rise up and once again reclaim democracy for all Americans. Hopefully their love affair with “Wall Street” and the Gordon Gekko wannabes will realize that greed and short-term gratification is hollow.

Maybe this economic situation will wake up the true patriots just as the war and racism did during the 60’s. You see during the 60’s the true patriots were not the ones that supported the war or supported racism and bigotry. The true patriots were the ones who stood up and said we will not accept the status quo and that we reject your vision of America. Many of us are too old for this fight and the truth is it is not our fight. The future belongs to the young, not the old. The time has come for our youth to put down the game controllers, smart phones, and other distractions that are reducing personage to an image or a message on a screen and become engaged. It is your future that is being stolen.

"Man is more disposed to domination than freedom; and a structure of dominion not only gladdens the eye of the master who rears and protects it, but even its servants are uplifted by the thought that they are members of a whole, which rises high above the life and strength of single generations." - Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt

The Disputed Truth

Constitutional Traitors: Are You One?

In recent days the idea of using the Article V convention option in the Constitution received support in an article by Texas US Senator John Cornyn published on the Fox News website.  He noted “Recent polling suggests that a plurality of Americans support a convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution if Congress will not do so.”  He made a good case for using the convention option by saying it “would be part of a national conversation that could last well beyond one or two election cycles. The very length of the convention and ratification process would allow the American people ample opportunity to judge proposed reforms, and ensure that they would strengthen the checks and balances that have served our nation well.”

A few days later, on the pages of the Wall Street Journal a strong case was made for a “repeal amendment” that would give state legislatures the power to veto federal laws, something worth proposing.  Though the oped by a professor and the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates did not say so, obviously Congress would never propose such an amendment.  That means using an Article V convention whereby state delegates could propose new amendments just as Congress has done, which the Speaker has acknowledged elsewhere.

At the same time a policy report from the Goldwater Institute recommended that “states seriously consider” using the convention option “to restrain the federal government.”

So the issue of using this convention option that Congress has refused to convene despite hundreds of state applications and that establishment powers on the political left and right have long opposed merits serious examination.  Start with this: Americans overwhelmingly say they love and respect the Constitution and usually specific amendments, though often different ones on the political left and right.  Three frameworks help understanding why most Americans oppose using the Article V convention option.  Two explain why convention proponents have not been able to impact most opponents that fit these two frameworks.  I offer a third framework or plan of attack which I believe will work.

First, consider the craziness framework.  Many Americans have been taught to fear using the convention option, even though it has never been used.  They are irrational.  This is like being afraid to eat the fruit of the constitutional tree first planted by the Founders even though no one has ever tasted or been harmed by the fruit.  Such people stubbornly think they are acting rationally; I think they are crazy and irrational.  This delusional thinking based on what is imagined to might happen is not easily changed, because such people have been purposefully and successfully brainwashed.  They have an emotional block. 

Rather than fear a runaway convention, people should fear our runaway politicians and government.  As quoted in the Goldwater Institute paper Ann Stuart Diamond pointed out that the interpretation that an Article V convention would or could rewrite the whole Constitution “is often a rhetorical ploy to terrify sensible people.”  The convention can only offer specific amendments.  It is time for Americans to recognize their fear of a convention as having no basis in fact.  And that those promoting fear themselves fear the reforms in government that a convention could propose.

Second, consider the analytic framework.  Many Americans use what they think are rational, substantive arguments.  Convention proponents use facts based on the exact language in Article V or other historical facts to objectively contradict wrong-headed thinking.  But correcting the record has not worked sufficiently, largely because opponents invent their own facts, ignore correct ones, and consume disinformation disseminated by convention opponents.  They have an intellectual block.  Cognitive dissonance works to prevent the pain of accepting new information incompatible with their negative views about a convention.

We should not invite, respect or participate in arguments by opponents that fit these two frameworks.  We should, in particular, recognize and condemn morally offensive fear mongering used intentionally by convention opponents.  Convention opponents seeking protection of their ability to influence the political system and selling fear and disinformation must face their constitutional guilt.

Converting convention opponents to proponents requires a paradigm change, which is very difficult.  However, the current justified high level of dissatisfaction with government, politicians and both major political parties and the strong desire for reform of government justify use of a new approach.

The patriotic framework better gets to the root of the problem from a rule of law perspective.  Rather than condemn convention opponents as irrational or ignorant, we condemn unpatriotic constitutional hypocrites.  When they openly oppose the convention option they are constitutional traitors.

With the patriotic framework we take advantage of frequent strong public support for constitutional amendments not proposed by Congress, including these: In 1996, 74 percent of Americans favored a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms that members of Congress and the US Senate could serve.  In 2005, 76 percent favored an amendment to allow voluntary prayer in public schools, and in 1983 81 percent favored it.  In both 2000 and 2004 61 percent favored amending the Constitution so that the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes would win, replacing the Electoral College.  In 1995, a balanced budget amendment passed the House but failed to meet the two-thirds requirement in the Senate by a single vote; this year there is a strong national movement to get it and a number of other amendments that would surely earn broad public support. 

The basis for the new framework is this: Virtually everyone professes respect and admiration for the US Constitution and knows that it includes a process for amending it.  But if someone opposes using the Article V convention option, then he or she is an unpatriotic constitutional hypocrite.  When they openly oppose a convention they are a constitutional traitor replacing the Founders thinking with theirs, putting themselves above the law.

Moreover, it is impermissible to pick and choose what parts of the Constitution are supported and obeyed.  Similarly, elected public officials who swear obedience to the Constitution cannot pick and choose which parts to obey.  Such behavior makes a mockery of the supreme law of the land, the rule of law, and our constitutional republic.  Silence by public officials on the issue is cowardly opposition to using the convention option.

No one can accurately forecast exactly what a convention would propose, but we do know that continuation of the status quo will not eliminate the corruption and dysfunction sustained by the two-party plutocracy.  The two major parties are rejected by 58 percent of the public for not effectively representing them, but a convention is far more attractive than forming a competitive third party.  Many reforms can only be achieved through constitutional amendments that Congress will never propose; this is inarguable.  Voting in elections to get reforms is passé.  A hard truth to take, but one that an increasing number of Americans have begun to accept.

Americans deserve the constitutional opportunity that Congress has deprived them of.

Americans must be taught this: Just by being in the Constitution the convention option demands public support.  Citizens are obliged to support it.  People cannot be allowed to have it both ways and be two-faced and hypocritical.  Embrace the convention option or be openly and aggressively condemned for unpatriotic hypocrisy and behavior that undermines the sanctity of the Constitution and the rule of law, both crucial for maintaining the integrity of our republic.

When it comes to reform and making government work for we the people, the greatest risk for the nation is not using the convention option.

What political powers on the left and right fear and oppose we the people must demand.  They are guilty constitutional traitors.  We must be courageous patriots.  There is no room for compromise with convention opponents.  We must shame and embarrass them; they are lousy citizens.  The time to argue about specific amendments is when the convention is in session and delegates must contend with public sentiments and later when proposed amendments are considered for ratification by states.

We cannot know with certainty whether holding a convention would revitalize the nation.  But refusing to use the convention option as a constitutional path to reform disrespects and undermines our constitutional republic.  The sorry state of the nation demands that we do more than just talk about it.  This year every candidate for the House and Senate should be compelled to publicly support using the convention option.  Lack of support for it should be grounds for defeating them.

[A shorter version of this article was presented at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School Article V symposium in Lansing, Michigan on September 16, 2010; contact Joel S. Hirschhorn, a co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention, through delusionaldemocracy.com.]

 

 

Constitutional Traitors: Are You One?

In recent days the idea of using the Article V convention option in the Constitution received support in an article by Texas US Senator John Cornyn published on the Fox News website.  He noted “Recent polling suggests that a plurality of Americans support a convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution if Congress will not do so.”  He made a good case for using the convention option by saying it “would be part of a national conversation that could last well beyond one or two election cycles. The very length of the convention and ratification process would allow the American people ample opportunity to judge proposed reforms, and ensure that they would strengthen the checks and balances that have served our nation well.”

A few days later, on the pages of the Wall Street Journal a strong case was made for a “repeal amendment” that would give state legislatures the power to veto federal laws, something worth proposing.  Though the oped by a professor and the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates did not say so, obviously Congress would never propose such an amendment.  That means using an Article V convention whereby state delegates could propose new amendments just as Congress has done, which the Speaker has acknowledged elsewhere.

At the same time a policy report from the Goldwater Institute recommended that “states seriously consider” using the convention option “to restrain the federal government.”

So the issue of using this convention option that Congress has refused to convene despite hundreds of state applications and that establishment powers on the political left and right have long opposed merits serious examination.  Start with this: Americans overwhelmingly say they love and respect the Constitution and usually specific amendments, though often different ones on the political left and right.  Three frameworks help understanding why most Americans oppose using the Article V convention option.  Two explain why convention proponents have not been able to impact most opponents that fit these two frameworks.  I offer a third framework or plan of attack which I believe will work.

First, consider the craziness framework.  Many Americans have been taught to fear using the convention option, even though it has never been used.  They are irrational.  This is like being afraid to eat the fruit of the constitutional tree first planted by the Founders even though no one has ever tasted or been harmed by the fruit.  Such people stubbornly think they are acting rationally; I think they are crazy and irrational.  This delusional thinking based on what is imagined to might happen is not easily changed, because such people have been purposefully and successfully brainwashed.  They have an emotional block. 

Rather than fear a runaway convention, people should fear our runaway politicians and government.  As quoted in the Goldwater Institute paper Ann Stuart Diamond pointed out that the interpretation that an Article V convention would or could rewrite the whole Constitution “is often a rhetorical ploy to terrify sensible people.”  The convention can only offer specific amendments.  It is time for Americans to recognize their fear of a convention as having no basis in fact.  And that those promoting fear themselves fear the reforms in government that a convention could propose.

Second, consider the analytic framework.  Many Americans use what they think are rational, substantive arguments.  Convention proponents use facts based on the exact language in Article V or other historical facts to objectively contradict wrong-headed thinking.  But correcting the record has not worked sufficiently, largely because opponents invent their own facts, ignore correct ones, and consume disinformation disseminated by convention opponents.  They have an intellectual block.  Cognitive dissonance works to prevent the pain of accepting new information incompatible with their negative views about a convention.

We should not invite, respect or participate in arguments by opponents that fit these two frameworks.  We should, in particular, recognize and condemn morally offensive fear mongering used intentionally by convention opponents.  Convention opponents seeking protection of their ability to influence the political system and selling fear and disinformation must face their constitutional guilt.

Converting convention opponents to proponents requires a paradigm change, which is very difficult.  However, the current justified high level of dissatisfaction with government, politicians and both major political parties and the strong desire for reform of government justify use of a new approach.

The patriotic framework better gets to the root of the problem from a rule of law perspective.  Rather than condemn convention opponents as irrational or ignorant, we condemn unpatriotic constitutional hypocrites.  When they openly oppose the convention option they are constitutional traitors.

With the patriotic framework we take advantage of frequent strong public support for constitutional amendments not proposed by Congress, including these: In 1996, 74 percent of Americans favored a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms that members of Congress and the US Senate could serve.  In 2005, 76 percent favored an amendment to allow voluntary prayer in public schools, and in 1983 81 percent favored it.  In both 2000 and 2004 61 percent favored amending the Constitution so that the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes would win, replacing the Electoral College.  In 1995, a balanced budget amendment passed the House but failed to meet the two-thirds requirement in the Senate by a single vote; this year there is a strong national movement to get it and a number of other amendments that would surely earn broad public support. 

The basis for the new framework is this: Virtually everyone professes respect and admiration for the US Constitution and knows that it includes a process for amending it.  But if someone opposes using the Article V convention option, then he or she is an unpatriotic constitutional hypocrite.  When they openly oppose a convention they are a constitutional traitor replacing the Founders thinking with theirs, putting themselves above the law.

Moreover, it is impermissible to pick and choose what parts of the Constitution are supported and obeyed.  Similarly, elected public officials who swear obedience to the Constitution cannot pick and choose which parts to obey.  Such behavior makes a mockery of the supreme law of the land, the rule of law, and our constitutional republic.  Silence by public officials on the issue is cowardly opposition to using the convention option.

No one can accurately forecast exactly what a convention would propose, but we do know that continuation of the status quo will not eliminate the corruption and dysfunction sustained by the two-party plutocracy.  The two major parties are rejected by 58 percent of the public for not effectively representing them, but a convention is far more attractive than forming a competitive third party.  Many reforms can only be achieved through constitutional amendments that Congress will never propose; this is inarguable.  Voting in elections to get reforms is passé.  A hard truth to take, but one that an increasing number of Americans have begun to accept.

Americans deserve the constitutional opportunity that Congress has deprived them of.

Americans must be taught this: Just by being in the Constitution the convention option demands public support.  Citizens are obliged to support it.  People cannot be allowed to have it both ways and be two-faced and hypocritical.  Embrace the convention option or be openly and aggressively condemned for unpatriotic hypocrisy and behavior that undermines the sanctity of the Constitution and the rule of law, both crucial for maintaining the integrity of our republic.

When it comes to reform and making government work for we the people, the greatest risk for the nation is not using the convention option.

What political powers on the left and right fear and oppose we the people must demand.  They are guilty constitutional traitors.  We must be courageous patriots.  There is no room for compromise with convention opponents.  We must shame and embarrass them; they are lousy citizens.  The time to argue about specific amendments is when the convention is in session and delegates must contend with public sentiments and later when proposed amendments are considered for ratification by states.

We cannot know with certainty whether holding a convention would revitalize the nation.  But refusing to use the convention option as a constitutional path to reform disrespects and undermines our constitutional republic.  The sorry state of the nation demands that we do more than just talk about it.  This year every candidate for the House and Senate should be compelled to publicly support using the convention option.  Lack of support for it should be grounds for defeating them.

[A shorter version of this article was presented at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School Article V symposium in Lansing, Michigan on September 16, 2010; contact Joel S. Hirschhorn, a co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention, through delusionaldemocracy.com.]

 

 

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