Strange Bedfellows – Conservative Article V Opponents and the Radical Left

by Rodney Dodsworth May 6, 2019

Article V is the essence of the American Revolution, the right of all peoples to amend their governing form as “shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Conservative opposition groups curiously stand alongside those who, without Article V, handily and regularly amend our Constitution through the levers of a government corrupted far and away from its original and lofty purposes.

A common and erroneous belief among Article V opponents equates state delegates to a COS with congressional representatives. Certainly, they reason, since the takeover of the US House of Representatives by the radical Left, no sane people would jeopardize the remains of their liberty to similar psychos at a COS rummaging around our beloved Constitution. One guy, a former state coordinator for the John Birch Society, asked why I would want to risk all on the likes of AoC. I wouldn’t, of course, do any such thing, and no similar thing is at risk at a COS. I don’t hold him as responsible as I do the JBS for misleading the public through its shallow scholarship. There just isn’t any excuse.

In a January 2018 column at the Convention of States website, self-described “red diaper baby” David Horowitz had a few things to say about conservative opposition groups:1

Conservative COS opponents overlook the fact that the commissioners to the convention act as agents of the state legislatures who appoint and commission them. Any actions outside the scope of that authority would be void as a matter of common law agency principles, as well as any state laws adopted to specifically address the issue.

The sad thing is that the conservative opposition groups don’t even seem to realize that in stoking fears about an Article V convention, they are reading right out of the Left’s playbook. While they tell the conservatives on their direct-mail lists that they are working to save the Constitution from being rewritten by George Soros and his ilk, Mr. Soros smiles, breathes a deep sigh of relief, and toasts to their success.

Never mind how these conservatives missed the memo in which the 230 most liberal, Marxist-leaning organizations in the country explicitly stated their opposition to a COS. These fringe conservative groups, fighting hard against the broader conservative movement to oppose this constitutional safety valve, are blocking the one politically feasible means the Right has to reverse our nation’s slide into socialism. So long as the JBS, Eagle Forum, and certain representatives of Concerned Women for America are fighting this fight for him, Mr. Soros can save his billions to send more statists to Congress where they can continue to exercise powers never actually given to Congress in the Constitution but blessed by an activist Supreme Court.

The problem will only worsen until definitive action corrects it, because when the nation’s highest court “interprets” the Constitution to allow the federal government to act in an extra-constitutional way, the only medicine strong enough to counteract it is the medicine prescribed by Article V: a definitive amendment of the Constitution, to clarify the will of the American people in black-and-white language. The Left knows this. And fears it.

This disinformation campaign dates from the mid-20th century. Its participants included members of Congress who feared that a convention might propose amendments to limit their power, activist Supreme Court justices seeking to protect themselves from constitutional reversal, and left-of-center academic and popular writers who opposed restraints on federal authority. The campaign succeeded because its publicists enjoyed privileged access to both the academic and the popular media. The fact that many conservatives swallowed the propaganda enabled liberal activists to recede into the background and rely on conservatives to obstruct reform.

Stanford University’s Gerald Gunther, who had clerked for activist Chief Justice Earl Warren, published a tract in 1979 referring to an Article V convention as a “constitutional convention” and suggesting that commissioners would be popularly elected. He appeared to be unaware of the fact that the Supreme Court had long since characterized an Article V convention as a “convention of states”— not a convention of commissioners.

In the 1980’s, Chief Justice Warren Burger, who had joined in the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, wrote multiple letters opposing the Article V process, which he, too, referred to as a “constitutional convention.” His opposition was based, in part, on his assertion that the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia had disregarded its instructions. Of course, this assertion has been definitively proven to be incorrect.

The late Phyllis Schlafly, Founder of Eagle Forum, made no bones about the fact that her opposition was based upon Burger’s letter advising her of the “dangers” of an Article V convention. It’s unclear whether she ever considered the possibility that Burger’s “advice” was based on his recognition of the very real danger, at that time, that an Article V convention was about to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision that he supported.

What triggered the John Birch Society’s opposition to the Article V convention process is less clear. What is well-documented, however, is that JBS hasn’t always opposed it. In fact, in the late 50’s and early 60’s, JBS Founder Robert Welch and many JBS chapters lobbied for passage of state resolutions to trigger a convention to propose the “Liberty Amendment.”2 Today, however, JBS seems to have forgotten about all that. It now uses the Left’s label of “con-con” to refer to the process, and fiercely opposes any and all efforts to implement it.

It is important to point out that in opposing the Article V convention process, Eagle Forum and the JBS have placed themselves in opposition to a long list of prominent conservatives that includes Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, Allen West, Ben Shapiro, Bobby Jindal, Greg Abbott, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Michael Farris, and many, many others. As more and more well-respected conservatives sign on to the Convention of States Project, I suspect that Eagle Forum and John Birch Society will grow increasingly uncomfortable with standing on the side of George Soros, Democracy 21, and Planned Parenthood.

I would remind them that there is no shame in changing their position. After all, I was once a radical Leftist, until I learned the truth. There is, on the other hand, considerable shame in letting fear and ignorance triumph over reality, reason, understanding, and cold, hard, historical facts.

  1. David Horowitz is a founder and president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC), editor of the Center’s publication, FrontPage Magazine, and director of Discover the Networks. His notable books: The Anti-Chomsky Reader, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey, and Unholy Alliance – Radical Islam and the American Left.
    2. The John Birch Society denies its history and betrays its mission.

Article V Blog