Recently, we wrote about a popular Article V Con-Con movement, Compact For America, and the concerning leadership behind it. On that board of advisers was Harvard's Lawrence Lessig, former adviser to the Obama campaign. Lessig is on the board of multiple efforts for a Con-Con, including Compact For America, Call a Convention, ConventionUSA, Rootstrikers, etc. Another very popular movement being referred to by Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and others is the Convention of States, founded and promoted by Mark Meckler, formerly of the Tea Party Patriots. When they recommend joining this particular effort, are they aware it is part of a coalition with some questionable members?
Since their co-sponsored Constitutional Convention conference in 2011, Lessig and Meckler have been in close contact, appearing together at many events (mostly far Left events) to promote a Constitutional Convention. In fact, the two of them are scheduled to appear in March for the third year in a row at the annual Citizen's University conference, along with Grover Norquist. The conference is sponsored by SEIU among others.
The fact that these two have worked so closely together might be concerning enough, but it appears that many of the Con-Con movements are actually in a coalition together. The different groups in the coalition all seemed to have had representation at the original 2011 Con-Con conference put on by Meckler and Lessig, and include some very radical players. It is possible that the thinking has been to organize subgroups that would appeal to different factions, but actually be working as a coalition behind the scenes. Certainly, that has been the result. The coalition is brought together on the Call a Convention site, also headed up by Lessig. Just a quick glance at one of the stories on their main page gives you a very good idea of their direction.
A current main page story outlines Lessig's annual New Hampshire Rebellion walk which addresses the Left's #1 priority, campaign finance reform. It is promoted as being anti-corruption, which no one would argue with, but the actual cause is campaign finance reform, as their site states. Further down the page, you'll see links to MoveToAmend.org and Wolf PAC, two far Left Con-Con movements:
In January, 1999, at the age of 88, Doris Haddock (aka, "Granny D"), started a walk from LA to DC with a sign on her chest that read "CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM."
Six months after she started her walk, John McCain launched his run for president in New Hampshire with a speech in Bedford that attacked the "corruption" that the existing system of campaign finance had produced.
We are a group of people from many different groups, and have become the legal expression of the Inter-Occupy Article V Work Group, which includes various Occupy chapters, former military, former 99% Declaration members and many other individual efforts, etc.
This one is run by Dan Marks, part of the Inter-Occupy working group. He has discussed the movement with fellow Occupiers here, as well as making a presentation to the radical Democracy Convention in 2013, Madison, WI. (Code Pink, Green Action, unions, etc.)
The website discussion groups break into various interests, such as one for members of Lessig's Rootstrikers and another one to discuss ideas like an Israel relocation amendment.
Here is their petition for a Con-Con. Note that they don't seem to think it's important what amendments would be considered yet ("You have to pass the Con-Con to know what's in the Con-Con.")
Article V Caucus
State legislators that have signed on to a Con-Con effort.
Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force
Various people working towards a balanced budget amendment (BBA).
Call a Convention
Home site for the coalition, founded by Lessig.
Convention of States
Home site for Mark Meckler's Con-Con effort.
Fix Washington By Calling an Article V "Amendments" Convention
Facebook page which "likes" the pages of other Con-Con movements and endorsers. It appears that attorney David Guldenschuh runs this page, and posts often refer back to Meckler's Convention of States site to sign up.
Friends of the Article V Convention
Led by former Chief Justice Thomas Brennan, Michigan. Home page features an odd Progressive cartoon, depicting JBS and the Eagle Forum as Constitutional hypocrites (likely due to their opposition to a Con-Con.) Another co-founder of this group, Byron DeLear, just published an article for The Progressive Examiner, in which he urges a combining of Left and Right for a Con-Con. Clearly, he is aware this coalition already exists, but had to start making a case for it.
Spokesman for this effort- Former North Dakota State Senator Curtis Olafson. He appeared as a speaker and a panelist at the Conference on the Constitutional Convention at Harvard Law School in 2011, where all of them were to start with. He was also invited to join Professor Rob Natelson as a co-presenter at an Article V Seminar at the Independence Institute in Denver in November of 2012, and was invited to be a speaker and a panelist at an Article V Conference held at the University of Central Florida in April of 2013. Note that Nick Dranias (CFA) and Rob Natelson also spoke at that conference, so the usual coalition.
In his widely acclaimed volume Our Undemocratic Constitution, Sanford Levinson boldly argued that our Constitution should not be treated with "sanctimonious reverence," but as a badly flawed document deserving revision.
From the Publisher
Stated by Prof. Levinson:
"Critics across the spectrum call the American political system dysfunctional, even pathological. What they don't mention, though, is the role of the Constitution itself in generating the pathology. … Most contemporary Americans … have seemingly lost their capacity for thinking seriously about the extent to which the Constitution serves us well. Instead, the Constitution is enveloped in near religious veneration. … We are long overdue for a serious discussion about [the Constitution's] own role in creating the depressed (and depressing) state of American politics."
Founded by Cenk Uygar of "The Young Turks" and often linked to by Lessig and other Leftist sites such as the Coffee Party, Wolf PAC makes no secret of their interest, which is campaign finance reform. Cenk was also among the participants at the original Mecker-Lessig Conference for a Constitutional Convention in Sept. 2011. From WolfPAC's state coordinator appearing at the Texans United to Amend Rally, January 2013 (regional branch of the radical MoveToAmend.org group):
If we are to be successful we have to work together. Not only Wolf-PAC, Move To Amend, Rootstrikers, Coffee Party, AFL-CIO, NAACP, Public Citizen, Progress Texas, Occupy and all the other groups who have come together here today, but with others with whom we may not have anything in common except the certainty that money in politics has destroyed our democracy and will destroy our country.
Is this to be a "Kumbaya" Con-Con? The various coalition groups know that they can appeal to everyone with an anti-corruption and "get money out of politics" approach. Who would argue with that? But what they say and what they do can be two very different things, and trusting your Constitution to this questionable coalition headed by Lawrence Lessig is a high stakes gamble.
This is Part 2 in a series. Click here to read Part 1.