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As you may or may not know, I’ve been advocating for the Article V Convention for some time. It turns out former Chief Justice Thomas E. Brennan (Michigan) has an idea, and you’re free to come along for the ride. I’m not sure myself what will come of it, but I believe consciousness acts upon the world in ways we can’t fully comprehend, and so think the endeavor is important. It could turn into a few different things, but at the least we’ll get a better picture of what the Article V Convention will actually look like.

What Justice Brennan has done is set up a virtual Article V Convention. It costs $10 a month to participate. So if you’ve ever wondered how the Article V Convention would unfold, and/or what it would be like as a delegate in a deliberative assembly, this might be something for you.


Justice Brennan's Bio:

Judge Brennan was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1953, and practiced law in Detroit for nine years. He was elected to the Detroit Common Pleas Court in 1961, advancing to the Wayne County Circuit Court and finally to the Michigan Supreme Court, where he served as Chief Justice in 1969 and 1970.

In 1972 Judge Brennan founded the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. In 1974 he resigned from the Court to become the school's first full-time Dean. During his decanal tenure, Judge Brennan founded the Cooley Legal Authors Society, the Student Bar Association, the Scholastic Review Board, the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review, and he designed the school's year-round, three-divisional system.

Judge Brennan served as President of the law school from 1979 until he retired on January 19, 2002, and also served on the Board of Directors from 1972 until 2002. The Honorable Thomas E. Brennan Law Library is named in his honor.

Description on the website:

Convention USA is an interactive, virtual convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Convention USA is a non-profit corporation founded by former Michigan Chief Justice Thomas E. Brennan and financed by the dues of its member-delegates. The convention welcomes citizens of every State to register as Delegates and participate in this exciting and historic work.

Here you will find a gathering of patriotic citizens who have assembled, not as revolutionaries, but as loyal Americans, to exercise their right as guaranteed by Article V of the Constitution of the United States, to convene as the people of the several States and to consider, debate, refine and propose such amendments to the Constitution as the experience of more than two centuries of government in our federal republic shall suggest.

This convention shall be called to order when Delegates from two-thirds of the States have registered, and shall adjourn sine die when the Congress calls a convention pursuant to Article V of the Constitution of the United States. Until 34 States are represented, the delegates shall function as a Committee of Organization.

The website where it's going to take place:

I think that at the least, it will be exciting to interact, debate, and build consensus with other Americans. Come join us.

Originally posted to John De Herrera on Wed May 19, 2010 at 07:30 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Qualifications of "delegates" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    john de herrera

    I'm pretty sure that state legislatures will insist on having a say regarding the qualifications of any delegates purporting to represent that state in a constitutional convention.

    "Some people pay for what others pay to avoid." -- Howard Devoto

    by droopyd on Wed May 19, 2010 at 07:33:51 PM PDT

    •  ... (0+ / 0-)

      Delegates will be elected to their positions of office. In Hawke v Smith (253 U.S. 221 (1920)) the Supreme Court addressed the issue when it discussed ratification conventions saying: "Both method of ratification, by Legislatures or conventions, call for action by deliberative assemblages representative of the people..."
      The court thus defined what the word "conventions" mean in the text of the Constitution: deliberative assemblages representative of the people, and equates that with legislatures, all of whom are representatives elected by the people of the state.

      Beyond this, the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause as well as Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution make it clear that all citizens are entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states. The Constitution requires that all members of Congress must be citizens of the United States and that they must be elected to that office. The Fourteenth Amendment creates two citizenships for all citizens of the United States: citizens of the United States and citizens of the state in which they reside or, state citizenship. Citizens, whether elected to Congress or to an Article V Convention receive, as a result of that election, the privilege to offer amendments to the Constitution and therefore the 14th Amendment requires that both sets of citizens, members of Congress and delegates to a convention must receive equal protection under the law. This means as members of Congress are elected and receive the privilege to offer amendment proposals, delegates who are given the same privilege to offer amendment proposals, must also be elected.

  •  so we have a ConCon and... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dhonig, john de herrera, palantir, Miggles

    get rid of the bill of rights? Allow foreigners to serve as President? Create a separate class of resident aliens who can live and work in the USA permanently but never become citizens thereby maintaining a white majority? Institute California style mob rule with referenda on everything? Remember that Americans voted for Reagan, twice. The downside risks are too great.

    "People like you are ruining this site" -a troll

    by Elvis meets Nixon on Wed May 19, 2010 at 07:58:28 PM PDT

    •  Hold up: (0+ / 0-)

      The common reaction to the idea of a federal convention is that it rewrites the U.S. Constitution. It does not, and it cannot. It is a deliberative assembly of delegates, and whatever consensus is built, those ideas must then be ratified by 38 states to become law. Do you really think 38 states are going to agree to do away with the Bill of Rights?

      There are no downside risks, the ratification process ensures that. Look at the federal government today and its lack of accountability, and tell us about downside risks.

      •  Bill of what? (0+ / 0-)

        Do you really think 38 states are going to agree to do away with the Bill of Rights?

        When a Democratic president claims the right to order the extra-judicial killing of anyone on the planet, including US citizens, just on his say-so and without having to provide an explanation or even a reason, and the "progressive" community meekly accepts this virtually without comment, I'd say that the "Bill" you speak of is in fact nothing but a figment of your imagination.

        Illegal Alien: Term used by the descendents of foreign colonizers to refer to the descendents of indigenous people

        by mojada on Wed May 19, 2010 at 11:36:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Is this a tea party thing? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dhonig, john de herrera
  •  No thanks. I like my Constitution the way it is. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Miggles

    Now if they would only follow it.  

    Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one's balance in spite of them. - Clausewitz

    by SpamNunn on Wed May 19, 2010 at 08:15:41 PM PDT

    •  Not that I disagree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      john de herrera, SpamNunn

      but it is odd that's a refrain from both sides of the spectrum.

    •  Consider this: (0+ / 0-)

      The Constitution you profess to revere has a convention clause, and the requisite for the Article V Convention has been met. Congress is failing to carry out its constitutional obligation to issue the call. Therefore, to say no thanks to a convention is to say no thanks to the U.S. Constitution.

      You not only contradict yourself, you fail to see that the reason it's ignored is specifically because we've been denied a convention for so long, where we'd be able to propose amendments to put politicians and judges in their place. Think about it sometime. As of now, sadly, your position is part of the problem.

      •  2/3 of the STATE LEGISLATURES (0+ / 0-)

        have NOT applied to Congress.

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

        by zenbassoon on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:22:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

          •  These are all for SPECIFIC Amendments (0+ / 0-)

            And they have VASTLY different years.  Are you counting the 1909 applications which talked about the eventual 17th Amendment?  Or those calling for a General Convention?

            "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

            by zenbassoon on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:49:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There are no limits on an application-- (0+ / 0-)

              no contemporaneous limits, no same-subject limits.

              They exist until a convention is called.

              •  But if you look at the ones from 1909 (0+ / 0-)

                The all concern direct election of Senators.  In other words, the 17th Amendment.  I think you need 2/3 of states proposing a SPECIFIC amendment OR 2/3 calling for a convention.  

                "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

                by zenbassoon on Wed May 19, 2010 at 10:05:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You think-- (0+ / 0-)

                  I don't think.

                  These are subjective opinions. The difference is that the latter opinion sides with the rule of law.

                  If you think, then you would need to show law stating why that's so. There is none. The application is part of the Constitution and lives on as long as the Constitution does, or until a convention is called.

                  There were 35 applications for a balanced budget amendment within a short period of time, plus the application from Wisconson in the 1920s saying the requirement had been met then. The Article V Convention has been mandated for some time.

    •  Agree. A constitutional convention (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      would be dominated by Ron/Rand Paul style nutjobs.  I predict that such a convention would result in all sorts of whacko changes like English only, reinstatement of the gold standard, the ousting of the UN, gutting of the 14th amendment, etc.

      Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

      by Miggles on Wed May 19, 2010 at 08:37:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If we convoke a federal convention (0+ / 0-)

        the entire political spectrum will be represented. The delegates will engage in calm, rational deliberation. Once consensus is built, the proposed ideas must then be sent to the states for ratification.

        There are many ideas that are non-partisan, those will move forward.

  •  C'mon John. Here are the 10 proposed (2+ / 0-)

    amendments. Looks like a John Birch Society tea party agenda.

    Post these issues in your diary and you'll be banned form the site.

    1. Balanced Budget
    1. Repay National Debt in 50 Years
    1. Government Transparency
    1. Line-Item Veto
    1. Term Limits for Congress
    1. Control Illegal Immigration
    1. English-Speaking Nation
    1. No Foreign Laws Will Bind Us
    1. Government Restraint
    - No Socialism

    1. In God We Trust

    I have usually defended your obsession, but this is beyond what I consider progressive. It's Ron Paul libertarianism.

    After all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.

    by Brahman Colorado on Wed May 19, 2010 at 08:58:43 PM PDT

  •  Here's the thing though: (0+ / 0-)

    the Constitution is VERY EXPLICIT in how it is amended.  Calling an Article V convention requires the LEGISLATURES of 36 states to APPLY TO CONGRESS--meaning they need to ASK CONGRESS FOR PERMISSION FIRST.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:21:56 PM PDT

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