Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig has been beating the drums for a Constitution Convention for many years. In 1993, the Texas Law Review published his article “Fidelity in Translation” in which he boldly stated, “It is time to rewrite our Constitution.” More recently, he formed the group known as “Call a Convention.” He also participated prominently at a Conference on the Constitutional Convention held at Harvard in September 2011.
Reformers who want a Con-Con will point to the ballooning national debt, congressional gridlock, too many firearms in the hands of too many Americans, and more. Lessig’s new crusade for change, however, targets the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that opened the door for corporations to finance election campaigns. He doesn’t like the idea. His current proposal for overturning this decision includes merely amending the Constitution. But the Constitution isn’t at fault. The problems facing America stem from weak and even revolutionary members of Congress who don’t abide by their oath to stand firmly with the Constitution they have sworn a solemn oath to defend.
And the American people have either forgotten or never knew a simply stated summary of American success. It is: “Our nation became great not because of what government did, but because of what government was prevented from doing by the limitations on power contained in the Constitution.” It is the turning away from those limitations that plagues our nation today. If the Constitution were adhered to, there would be no foreign aid, no war without a formal declaration by Congress, no Federal Reserve, no federal departments of education, housing, health, transportation, and more. The federal government would shrink to 20 percent its size and 20 percent its cost.
Professor Lessig’s newest crusade starts with his launching of a super Political Action Committee called Mayday PAC. He intends to raise $12 million for it to insure victory for five like-minded candidates for Congress, men or women who will work to change the way election campaigns are funded. He is, therefore, willing to use the Supreme Court’s opening for corporate financing of elections to overturn that very decision.
Once he succeeds with five new members of Congress, he expects to raise more money to finance more candidates willing to carry out his plan. These new voices in Congress will then support his interim desire expressed by Lessig himself: “A constitutional amendment is Mayday PAC’s ultimate goal.” But as he has clearly indicated in the past, he wants the entire Constitution changed, not just an amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision. His Mayday PAC will be used to cast doubt on the worth of the entire Constitution.
As has been evident in other efforts to tinker with, or even destroy, the Constitution, Lessig has enlisted the help of prominent Republicans and a bunch of technocrats. The five-member board he has assembled to run Mayday PAC includes Mark McKinnon, who held key positions in both of George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns and in Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential race.
As noted above, Professor Lessig isn’t concerned only about campaign financing. His long-range goal includes cancelling the Constitution in favor of a completely new law of the land. Based on what he has stated in the past, it would not contain the limitations appearing in the 1787 document that have won praise from many world leaders and are the key to America’s enviable success and freedom. Helping fellow Americans to know what this man has in mind is the way to defeat his proposals.