I ruffled some feathers when I opined a few weeks ago about the possibility of a Article V convention. Now that several bills have advanced to the floor of the General Assembly calling for an Article V convention, there seems to be a real chance of passage of such a thing for the first time since Speaker Howell and the General Assembly wisely revoked Virginia’s previous call for an Article V convention over ten years ago. Many good conservatives like Ken Cuccinelli support such an idea. Nevertheless, the more I learn about not just the concept itself, but those behind it, the worse an idea it seems.
The people, and the money, behind the push for an Article V convention, are, shall we say, suspect. Mark Meckler, the President of the Convention of States project, was, of all things, a distributor with Herbalife, the purveyor of dietary supplements that works through a Mary Kay/Amway-style pyramid scheme. Mr. Meckler apparently made quite a killing, being near the top of the Herbalife pyramid. Meckler had never shown any real inclination to be involved in politics. This changed when he suddenly jumped into politics, co-founding Tea Party Patriots (TPP) with Jenny Beth Martin. For brevity’s sake, I won’t rehash the issues with TPP becoming a cash cow for its leadership here, but Google will quickly turn up a number of references should readers require them. Oddly enough, TPP, like Herbalife, distributed what it took in (initially through membership fees, then later contracted a large fundraising firm which kept up to 70% of every dollar taken in for TPP) through a pyramid-like scheme. I don’t believe in that sort of coincidence. Mr. Meckler then left TPP for the Convention of States project. It’s unknown how much they pay their employees, of course, but it is VERY well-funded. Here in Virginia, it is allied to the Middle Resolution PAC, which is bankrolled by Bob Bailie, an establishment Republican megadonor. In the interests of brevity, I also won’t get into the longstanding issues with Middle Resolution and conservatives, but like with regard to TPP, Google will be your friend.
There is one last tidbit regarding Mr. Meckler. He recently joined up with Living Room Conversations, a group that, based on their site, is very left-leaning. Their other public representatives include a co-founder of MoveOn.org, a former organizer of the Coffee Party, and Van Jones (!). I am not making this up.
The advocates of the Convention of States project have still failed to demonstrate how an Article V convention could be limited once called, or how they could guarantee the “one state, one vote” structure they propose, or how they could guarantee that the delegates would be strict constructionist Constitutional conservatives. Their constitutional law expert, Robert Natelson, argues that state legislatures have such power. As it turns out, he’s wrong. Given the political makeup of Virginia, does anyone think that, even granting the CoS advocates that they could set up the convention exactly the way they propose, that our delegate would be a Ken Cuccinelli or Dave Brat? It’s far more likely that the General Assembly would select, if not a Howell or Norment themselves, someone like… oh, Frank Wagner or Barry Knight, or if we roll snake eyes, Bill Bolling. Consider that. Then consider the delegates that states like, say, New York might choose. If we are lucky, they’d send Michael Bloomberg. It is highly unlikely that an Article V convention would be led by conservatives, and extremely likely that it would yield exceedingly dangerous proposed amendments, which would then have considerable momentum for passage through the state legislatures, by the same Congress that constructed the convention in the first place. This is why the left is pushing for an Article V convention through Move To Amend and Wolf PAC. Some suggest that penalties could be imposed on delegates who exceed the instructions of a state which appointed them to an Article V convention, but there is no case law supporting that such a thing would stand. None. Once the convention is called, it’s anyone’s ballgame. Some CoS advocates even insist that an Article V convention is not a constitutional convention. Black’s Law Dictionary says otherwise. It’s also worth noting that at the 1787 convention, every delegate other than George Mason and Elbridge Gerry, and one other gentleman (whose name escapes me at the moment) wanted to leave the convention option out of Article V completely, yet these three threatened to leave the convention unless a convention to propose amendments was added, and ended up doing so anyhow because it didn’t go far enough to suit them (they wanted the convention model that CoS advocates, and didn’t get it). A convention simply wasn’t among the vehicles the framers had in mind to restrain an overarching federal leviathan. Tremendous and unnecessary danger awaits the republic if an Article V convention should come to pass.
To sum up, it is desperately important for the General Assembly to defeat HJ497 and HJ499 on the floor of the House of Delegates, and SJ252 and SJ269 on the floor of the Senate of Virginia this week. Delegate Bob Marshall and Senator Dick Black have been absolute heroes on this issue. They need YOUR help! Contact your legislators (politely and concisely) and let them know you oppose these bills, and any call for an Article V convention.