Article V Con-Con Groups in a Coalition – Who is Holding Hands with Whom

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 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.

With this story from their site as your introduction, take a look at the coalition members, as shown on the Call a Convention site, of which Lawrence Lessig is the founder:
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.

Convention USA
Lessig is also on the board of this effort; mostly professors and judges.

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.

Restoring Freedom
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.

Sanford Levinson – Constitutional Law Professor
University of Texas professor and author of "Our Undemocratic Constitution":

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

"From America's greatest revolutionary constitutionalist, a profoundly important book, that will be at the center of the next reform movement."—Lawrence Lessig, author of Republic, Lost

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."

Wolf PAC
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 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.

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149 thoughts on “Article V Con-Con Groups in a Coalition – Who is Holding Hands with Whom

  1. LadyImpactOhio says:

    Yikes. Lessig, Meckler and Norquist in a room.

  2. LadyImpactOhio says:

    Let's also remember Lessig is a charter member of that avowed Marxist Robert McChesney's "Save the Internet" which wants to do just the opposite. Meaning he/they want Net Neutrality.

  3. A Con-Con is a Trojan Horse intended, by those promoting it, to be the coup de grace for what remains of our Constitutionally protected rights.

  4. Scott Rogers says:

    From an article by Sen. Orrin Hatch:

    Article V itself contains no fewer than seven powerful safeguards against a runaway convention. For instance, states can limit the scope of a convention by limiting the application. Utah properly did this.

    Moreover, Congress can refuse to call a convention unless the states agree on a limited purpose. States could appoint delegates for a limited purpose and recall any delegates exceeding that assignment.

    The Supreme Court could invalidate the results of a runaway convention. Congress could refuse to submit to the states the product of a runaway convention. Article V itself contemplates changes to parts of the Constitution, rather than wholesale changes. Finally, and most important, any proposed amendment would require ratification by three-quarters of the states.

    With all these safeguards, the chances of a runaway convention are virtually non-existent.

    If Congress did not invalidate the runaway, the Supreme Court would. If the Supreme Court did not invalidate the runaway, the state would refuse to ratify. The most skittish constitutional scholars agree that Article V prevents any chance of a runaway crisis.

    Speaking of skittish constitutional scholars, even the American Bar Association agrees that the states can call a carefully limited convention. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the same proposition in 1986. A Department of Justice study in 1987 reached the same conclusion.

    Nonetheless, a fear oft repeated becomes fearsome. The repeating of this unfounded fear could actually undercut a constitutional right.

    Without a clear understanding of Article V's safeguards, states might fear a runaway convention. If states fear a runaway convention, they will abandon the people's right to petition for limited and discrete constitutional changes. We cannot abandon a constitutional right without a cost. In this case, the cost is great.

    Without a means for the people to propose amendments to the Constitution, Congress will control all changes in the document. A recalcitrant Congress can frustrate the people's demand for proper and narrow constitutional improvements. The balanced budget amendment might serve as a good example. If the people cannot demand changes, Congress may never propose such an amendment.

    Thoughtful Utahns might disagree on the merits of a balanced budget amendment. Regardless of the merits of such an amendment, I hope that Utahns can agree that we ought not to surrender our right to call for constitutional changes in the face of a recalcitrant Congress.

    The Framers built the alternative means of amending the Constitution into Article V as a safety valve. We must not surrender this vital constitutional right.


    • keyesforpres says:

      We don't need a convention to get a balanced budget amendment.
      Have we not already added and subtracted amendments?
      Our Founders put that in place so a convention would not be necessary.
      The left has said they want a new Constitution by 2020.
      You can bet about half the folks on the Supreme Court want a new constitution as well.

    • lakeside227 says:

      Oh, the naivete.

      Please post your guarantee that these groups WILL act as you SAY they should, that these safeguards WILL be utilized.

  5. Scott Rogers says:

    I know most of the people mentioned in this article. For one thing, conservatives are not working with liberals in this effort. There is not a single liberal group that has been able to get a state to pass an Article V application. This article is just scare mongering from the con con crowd. Read the research on Article V by Professor Natelson of the Independence Institute and get educated!

    • Welll thanks so much for coming into the discussion Mr Rogers and telling us how uneducated we are.....after all you quoted from the great source Orin Hatch....Mr I'll blow with the wind any which way. Rather than rehash all the tremendously well thought out and factual comments from this discussion, I hope you and your con con buddies like Mr Dranias keep living in your Kumbaya world.

    • southwestgal says:

      Read the links that are very well researched. Sorry to tell you, libs like Lawrence Lessig for one are in on the concon concept with conservatives. And you expect the Supreme Court to invalidate runaway convention? This is the Supreme Court that validated Obama care; this is the Supreme Court that is packed with three out and out libs - one of whom, Justice Bader says we need to follow the outlines of South Africa's constitution - this is the love she has for our beloved document of freedom.

    • lakeside227 says:


      A5 supporters say we need new amendments because we can't trust the government to obey the Constitution. Yet, the success of an A5 is dependent upon TRUSTING the federal government to OBEY THE CONSTITUTION.

      Double facepalm...

    • southwestgal says:

      And a prez who merrily puts the Constitution through a paper shredder.

    • The coalition website says they absolutely are working together. What information do you have to the contrary?

  6. ChristCrusader says:

    Don't be misled by these traitorous or foolish hucksters!
    Our core American Constitutional Republic is as sound and good as its people guard it to be. It's what we've allowed scoundrel politicians to do with it unchecked that's become evil. The solution is to vote the scoundrels out in the next ejection, not undermine the system. Our system is not perfect, nor self-correcting, but is the easiest of all systems to correct. Restore, restore, restore. There is no better system that better balances restrictive structure and liberty. These people want unrestricted access to the very foundation of the freest form of government controllable by a bianuual vote at a ballot box, that has ever been or ever could be on earth by men.

    This nation's economy could collapse any day.
    Our borders are porous to unrestricted immigration.
    Our soldiers are spent overseas in other countries' wars.
    Our dollars are spent funding the enemies that our soldiers overseas are fighting under onerous rules of engagement, designed to create unneccessary mortal situations of danger and terror for our troops, while giving the advantage to the enemy we fund.
    Our soldiers who return home alive are disregarded for treatment while summarily categorized as untrustworthy, potential domestic terrorist criminals.
    Our federal government records our private communications and tracks our travels.
    The "president" continues to sign controls over every access to civilian basic needs, giving him the illegal, faux, grabbed authority to shut off our lives on his whim.
    Don't give anyone the keys to undermine our Republic as well, and all it's protective declaration of our liberties.

    We currently have the Constitution to appeal to to justify dissent, impeachment, and judicial relief.
    We currently have the Constitution to demand our vote to eject the legislative traitors and demand an honest count of those votes.
    A true article V constitutional convention can rewrite all our rights and liberties away and hand the legal authority completely to the feds, or any new version of centralized government they announce upon exiting the convention. What was first asked after the first Constitutional Convention ended and they opened the locked doors and raised the window blinds, "Mr. Benjamin Franklin, what form of government did you give us?" to which he responded, "A Republic, if you can keep it." Becomes, "Mr. New World Order, Progressive Liberal Socialist, what form have government have you given us?" "Officer, have this person arrested!"

    • southwestgal says:

      Exactly, Crusader - rewrite and melt all our liberties away is what it would do. This is the path we do not want taken - the fork can go both ways - and with the political climate as it is, it will not be the constitutional one.

    • Very well stated and with the clear options we Patriots have. It is our Republic to bring back from the brink. We will not do it via a con con. Let's keep activating fellow Patriots and getting Consititutional Conservatives out to vote! We will reclaim our Beloved America!

  7. I think that the states should come up with their own ideas.

    However I certainly do not fee Represented at any level.

    So. I guess I'm disenfranchised.

  8. southwestgal says:

    "Deep ideological differences" - here we go with the one size fits all, everyone get in the COS tent, hold hands, smoke the water pipe and all will be Nirvana for the US. Lefties, welcome, welcome, we value your (destruction) of our constitution!

  9. We are not fooled by these tactics.

  10. This is what they do. Obfuscate. They'll kick off some bad behaviors that will serve to 'concern' the powers that be so they can be justified to shut this down. Don't get snookered. Make sure that every dollar you spend; every hour you volunteer; every advocacy you make...supports the legitimate Convention of States project. Call out these fakirs at every turn and make sure that our media outlets contrast them. Remember the fake tea party folks that showed up with outrageous statements and poor grammar / spelling on their signs? These folks will stop at nothing to de-legitimize opponents to their all-inclusive shared poverty future. Stop them now.

  11. southwestgal says:

    No one is name calling. You began name 'dropping'. No true patriot would compromise himself or herself by blithely stated it was all right for a US-hating-wish-to-destroy-this-country deep-pocketed commie (oh sorry, name calling, bad me!) like Soros is welcome as what? a backer? The majority of posts on this thread are anti-con and YES I have read the information available, thank you much, on COS, con con etc etc. I think it is pretty evident that those on this post are all well versed on such.