In 1970, when I was Chief Justice of Michigan, I met President Richard Nixon at a seminar in Colorado. He looked at my name tag, and asked me if I was related to Mr. Justice William Brennan of the United States Supreme Court.
“No, Mr. President,” I answered. “I am not related to Justice Brennan by consanguinity, affinity or philosophy.” Nixon gave me a warm handshake and a big smile.
William J. Brennan was an effective leader of the activist, progressive wing of the nation’s highest court. After he died, his devotees created the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. The Center is an avowed advocate of judicial activism. Its web site says it this way:
“we lead an ambitious new initiative to develop and articulate a compelling progressive jurisprudence for the 21st century”.
Furthering this goal, the Brennan Center has joined with Common Cause, and several other activist and progressive organizations to rail against the idea of an Article V Amendatory Constitutional Convention.
Like their antithesis at the other end of the political spectrum, the John Birch Society and The Eagle Forum, the Brennan Center and their liberal cohorts paint a scary picture of a dictatorial cadre of constitutional spoilers hell bent on depriving Americans of their God given and constitutionally recognized rights.
So there it is. Both sides of the aisle. All the opinion makers, the think tankers, the Rightees and the Leftees. They all love our wonderful constitution. They call it sacred. They honor it. The support it, Nay, they literally worship the paper it is written on.
All except Article V. All except the notion of letting the people of the United States, who wrote and ratified the Constitution, assemble in convention and propose amendments.
The people are not to be trusted, they say. Shop keepers, truck drivers, housewives, students, for heaven’s sake, what do they know about the principles and powers of government which “to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness” as Thomas Jefferson wrote.
They insist that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, were written by giants, prophets, geniuses, saints, and they claim that there is no one living today smart enough, good enough, wise enough, prescient enough to even discuss amending the constitution, much less actually propose an amendment.
The ramrod argument of the nay sayers always comes down to something like this: The constitution doesn’t tell us how the convention is to be organized. Who will be the delegates? How will they be chosen? Who will make the convention rules? Who will decide on the agenda?
And that always leads to criticism of the various initiatives seeking to get Congress to call a convention. Who are they? Who’s really behind it? What are they up to? Which, of course, then segues over to a chorus of insinuations, speculations and accusations.
Politics as usual.
In the midst of it all, I confess to being the lesser Justice Brennan, neither conservative nor liberal. Just an old fashioned American populist who believes that a free people are competent to govern themselves, and that our Constitution is the Peoples Charter. The people wrote it and adopted it. The people are competent to amend it.
Which is why I founded Convention USA. Which Is why I have spent countless hours and dollars creating a real live, honest-to-God assembly of representatives of the American People on the Internet. Six thousand six hundred sixty-six delegates, one for every 50,000 people in the nation, drawn from every county in the fifty states and chosen in non partisan elections.
The establishment folks, the professional, academic, political, corporate and organizational elite can ignore us. They can ridicule and they can laugh. But they can’t stop patriotic citizens from registering as delegates at: