March 7, 2012
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests. -Patrick Henry
In September of 2011, I wrote a two part article entitled, The Constitutional Convention Con, regarding the Tea Party Patriots and Harvard University co-sponsoring a Conference to specifically discuss the feasibility of holding a Constitutional Convention. According to an article in the Daily Caller, the event included experts who discussed “their interpretations of Article V, their understanding of how the Founders viewed the provision and how a Constitutional Convention would operate today."
In response to that article, I received an e-mail from Hal Shurtleff, the North-Eastern Regional Director of the John Birch Society. He informed me he and several others would be attending this conference on the Con-Con held at Harvard. Unfortunately, they were not invited as participants and had to question guests as they left the conference. Hal sent me several interviews with participants regarding what took place inside the conference. A special thanks to my friend Chey, who transcribed one of the interviews for me, which I've included a portion of below. As always, thank you to Hal for his generosity, for his informative and timely phone calls from Harvard, and his videos of interviews.
The September 24th and 25th, 2011 Conference on the Constitutional Convention was sponsored by Harvard Law School's Lawrence Lessig, Rootstrikers (which works to reduce the role of special interest money in elections, and is backing the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators) and Tea Party Patriots, represented by co-founder Mark Meckler. The list of attendees reads like a who's who of the left with a few moderates from the right thrown in for "balance." Even Cenk Uygur and Bill Walker, two vociferous proponents of opening a Con-Con were invited. Obviously absent were the anti-Con-Con folks, the John Birch Society, Eagle Forum, American Policy Center's Tom DeWeese, Daughters of the American Revolution, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and virtually every Second Amendment organization (other than NRA) and countless others who could have balanced the attendees.
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) group is not only demanding the UN one-percent tax, but now they are also demanding a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of changing the entire social structure of the US. Those of you who read my articles know I've written several times about the dangers of a Constitutional Convention. See The Constitutional Convention Con, Wolves in Sheep's Clothing?, and Occupy Wall Street and the Constitutional Convention for the full ramifications of a call for a convention. Leftist commentator, Cenk Uygur (mentioned above in my OWS article) has announced the formation of Wolf-PAC to campaign for a Constitutional Convention. His call to action was featured on a website, Amped Status, run by David DeGraw who is one of the original founders of the OWS movement. Here is a video of Cenk's dangerous Constitutional Convention announcement.
Cenk Uygur and Lawrence Lessig
In this interview after the Con-con Conference, Cenk Uygur claims he came to Harvard to discuss what could be done to get rid of the money in politics. He says he came to find out, "Is there a better alternative than an amendment to clean up and get rid of the money influence in politics? My guess is no after having listened to all this. We do need an amendment, there is not a better alternative. Is there a better alternative than a convention to get that done? Again, my answer is so far, NO, there is not a better alternative. Conventions are not easy, a Con-con is really hard, but you know what, I walked away from this thinking that it's even more possible than I thought it was. So I'm thinking, let's go get em. So all of a sudden we're having fun."
Lawrence Lessig is professor of law at Harvard Law School (HLS) and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. Lessig is a leading figure on the social democratic left. Former HLS Dean and now US Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan said of Lessig, "Larry Lessig is one of the most brilliant and important legal scholars of our time…. His work has recast the very terms of discussion and debate in multiple areas of law, ranging from intellectual property to constitutional theory. His new focus on questions of governance and corruption will be similarly transformative.”
According to Citizen Wells News Blog, Lawrence Lessig was an associate of Obama’s at the University of Chicago. Lawrence Lessig considers Obama a friend and has supported Obama on his website and in speaking engagements. Lessig is mentioned on Obama’s site as part of his technology initiative.
In a 2008 article at Sic Semper Tyrannis about Lawrence Lessig, it states, "Killing God and destroying the right to private property are usually associated with communism. They also seem important to the prominent legal theorist serving as Barack Obama’s technology adviser. It should not be surprising that Obama doesn’t want the world knowing to what extent Lessig is involved in advising the Democratic front-runner. The former Harvard Law School professor is the leading light of what is known as the “free culture movement,” which insists that the age of the Internet should mean the abolition of intellectual property rights.
Lessig is openly gay and has a radical opinion about gay rights. He also has radical ideas about intellectual property rights and government information. What is more disturbing to me is a video he produced and presented at a conference that mocks Jesus and portrays Jesus as Gay.
Uygur interviewed Larry Lessig after the Conference and Lessig said,
"This Conference was to try to bring people together from the
left and the right, people who support the idea of a convention and people
who oppose it, to at least begin to put the idea out there in a way that
answers questions and begins to address some of the craziness around the
idea of a convention.
And I've been driven to the idea that the convention is really essential because like you, I think the fundamental problem in American politics is the corruption of our political system. It's a corruption that makes it impossible for the left to get what the left wants and the right to get what the right wants." This is the Hegelian Dialectic.
These two men actually believe they could open a Con-Con and even if it was a runaway Convention as the first one was (precedent set) the states would not allow out-of-control amendments. As far as I'm concerned we only have one true statesman in Congress and the rest are traitors to their oaths of office and to the Constitution. The Governors of our states are just as much to blame, a good example is our so-called Christian conservative Governor of Tennessee whom I wrote about in Taxed Enough Already, and who is supporting Romney for President. Can you just imagine the type of delegates the states would send to the Con-con? I shudder at the thought.
Hal Shurtleff and Dan McGonigle
Transcribed here is part of an interview with Constitutionalist, Dan McGonigle and Hal Shurtleff outside Austin Hall at Harvard's Con-Con Conference.
Hal: We're here at the Harvard Law School, Austin Hall, September 25, 2011. This is the end of a two-day conference on the Con-Con. One of our constitutionalists on the spot here is Dan McGonigle. Dan did not participate inside; but, he was out here handing out information about why we shouldn't have a Con-Con. A view, by the way, that was not well-received here. At the closing remarks there was a closing panel discussion and everybody on the panel favored a Con-Con; from the Tea Party Patriots to Larry Lessig. So Dan, give us some of your comments on the conversations you had with attendees; pro, con and indifferent. What do you think the results of this conference will be? By the way, Dan McGonigle is the head of the Committees of Safety and also a local John Birch Society member.
Dan: As Hal said, I wasn't inside. I had just a few brief conversations with some people who attended out here. One particular gentleman was for a convention and I tried to.... at the end of the conversation it came down to, “Okay, if we don't have a convention, how are we going to fix what's wrong with the general government?” I gave him the mantra of what I'm focused on which is revitalizing the two ancient powers of the purse and the sword at the state level.
Hal: I only attended the morning session here on Sunday; but, no mention of Article 10 of the Constitution, the 10th Amendment, I should say, one way or the other of the way states can resume their powers instead of having an open convention where anything can happen. There are people that have legitimate concerns of a runaway convention because the only precedent we have was the first one under the Articles of Confederation, etc.
The bottom line is there are some folks that are pretty bold about what they want. There was a book that was published in the 1980s, “The Power to Lead,” by James McGregor Burns, who is still living at this time. He's in his 90s and is a very influential man. People look at him like he's some kind of legal god and he said, “Our founders did a great thing then; but, it's well outdated and we have to make right what they put asunder.” So, I don't think it will be a runaway like there'll be all kinds of different agendas being carried out. I think there are some folks with clear cut objectives that will really dramatically change our Constitution. (The goal is to eliminate it).
The people on the Left know exactly what they want. I don't think they want just a little amendment that would rein in corporations. I think they're going to have some serious issues here if we do have a convention.
By the way, the 10th Amendment is basically, the powers that the Constitution did not give to the federal government or denied to the states, are retained by the states unto the people.
Dan: Right! And, just a few minutes ago I was talking to a 3rd year law student who's volunteering here at the conference. He made a statement that from what he's learned here in law school, since the 1840s it's pretty well settled, according to him, that nullification by the states can't be done. Now, obviously the very famous Dr. Tom Woods...just recently published a book titled, “Nullification.”
Hal: What's interesting is that Harvard Law School would actually co-sponsor and host the event. Harvard Law School, probably since the mid-1880s has this evolutionary perspective of Law. Roscoe Pound was the professor that was hired to promote the idea that not only do we evolve as human beings--- you know, from monkeys into humans--- which I would reject; but, everything evolves, including the law, including the Constitution! So, what was meant in 1787, 1788 and 1789 really doesn't mean what it means today and that everything is changing.
On the other hand, the Tea Party Patriot-types, we hope, would be advocates of limited government, fixed law, a republic. By the way, the words “democracy” and “republic” were used interchangeably here as if they had the same meaning. That was quite interesting.
Dan: I believe that this conference is off-point. From what they're saying, the intent is to amend the Constitution. I think first we need to restore dormant clauses in the Constitution that are not currently being enforced.
Hal: Well, my suggestion is first off; these folks in this conference, most of them mean business! They want to have a convention..... My issue is that if you want one and you're on the Right, you're going to work with the Left and push a convention. Ask yourself, “What do these people on the Left want?” Is it going to get more government, more power to Congress or less power? So, before you say, “Oh, let's have consensus," and I heard that word being used by one of the Tea Party activists.
Consensus is something from the Delphi Technique! In other words, we may disagree; but, let's come together and walk out of here all in agreement ready to have a plan of action. I would hope that most Tea Party people do not agree!
I think Lawrence Tribe, a professor here at Harvard Law School, has been on the record as “against' one. He said, “It simply cannot be controlled.” The idea is that you can pass a resolution basically controlling it. Well, a Convention is a sovereign body. They can do whatever they wish! Even if the resolution says they'll be recalled or given a fine or put in jail, I don't think they're going to be worried about that if their agenda is to radically change the Constitution.
So, with that folks, we have our work cut out for us. Harvard Law School doesn't have these conventions unless they mean business so we need to mean business too! For more information, please go to Stop the Con-Con! "Why would politicians suddenly start following an amended Constitution after ignoring and violating it for so long? The remedy so desperately needed to return our country to good government is to enforce the Constitution, not amend it."
Essentially, 80% of the attendees invited were pro-Constitutional Convention. At the end of the Conference nearly all were in agreement for a Convention. Co-founder Jenny Beth Martin stated, "Mark is attending the ConConCon not in support or against a Constitutional Convention, but rather as information and debate on it. We are not taking a stand on a Constitutional Convention one way or other."
Prior to the Conference, Mark Meckler stated, "But we must also remember what many of the founders and especially Thomas Jefferson said to us, "Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of a preceding age a wisdom more than human and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment..." Again, he did not think it good to change them frequently or for small reason. But he would have been vehemently opposed to the idea that amendments should not be considered nor discussed openly."
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I wrote extensively about those who fund and back the Tea Party Patriots in Part 3 of the Tea Parties, many of whom have ties to the left. Yet I was shocked that Mark Meckler, co-founder of TPP would attend a conference like this, much less come to the conclusion we need a Constitutional Convention. The question remains, why as a co-sponsor of this event did TPP not seek out and invite the brilliant anti-Constitutional Convention experts and scholars to attend the Conference? Why were the majority of invitees pro-Constitutional Convention? Why for heaven's sake would anyone join with Harvard Law School to debate the Constitution without insisting that legal scholars against a Con-Con being invited?
In Part 2, we'll discuss the latest new constitutions being written, those of both the left and right who are pushing for a Convention, and the recent resignation of Mark Meckler from Tea Party Patriots.
© 2012 Kelleigh Nelson - All Rights Reserved
Kelleigh Nelson has been researching the Christian right and their connections to the left, the new age, and cults since 1975. Formerly an executive producer for three different national radio talk show hosts, she was adept at finding and scheduling a variety of wonderful guests for her radio hosts. She and her husband live in Knoxville, TN, and she has owned her own wholesale commercial bakery since 1990. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Kelleigh was marketing communications and advertising manager for a fortune 100 company in Ohio. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, she was a Goldwater girl with high school classmate, Hillary Rodham, in Park Ridge, Illinois. Kelleigh is well acquainted with Chicago politics and was working in downtown Chicago during the 1968 Democratic convention riots. Kelleigh is presently the secretary for Rocky Top Freedom Campaign, a strong freedom advocate group.