Claiming that “any solutions must be acceptable to ... both ends of the spectrum,” organizers of the Mount Vernon Assembly (MVA) are holding a two-day meeting at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis on June 12 and 13. The stated purpose of the gathering, say the organizers in a “Dear Fellow Legislator” letter, is to “focus on the beginning stages of drafting rules and procedures by which any Article V convention for proposing amendments would operate.”
“As soon as rules and procedures are defined, we will be able to better focus our attention on actual solutions to the problems our nation faces,” says the MVA letter, dated May 21, 2014. “Our initial meeting at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate this past December,” it notes, “began the important discussion around our constitutional responsibility as state legislators to take action on the issues of this nation.”
The MVA is a major player in the network of “progressive” and “conservative” activists who are working together in an effort to create a groundswell of public support for an Article V constitutional convention to amend and revise the U.S. Constitution. As The New American’s Christian Gomez pointed out recently (“Working Together to Rewrite the Constitution”), the coalition is an odd assortment of collaborators that includes prominent radicals who are anything but friendly to the limited, constitutional government crafted by our Founding Fathers, and who are downright hostile to, for instance, the Second Amendment protections for the individual right to keep and bear arms.
One of the Left’s big guns in the Article V Con-Con movement is Harvard Law Professor (and Obama adviser) Lawrence Lessig. Another is Professor Mary Penrose of Texas A&M Law School, who believes “there is not a single amendment that is absolute ... no constitutional right is sacred.” And, of course, she bears a special hatred for the Second Amendment, which millions of Americans see (as did the Founding Fathers) as the palladium protecting all our other rights.
But the MVA’s “big tent” philosophy embraces all of those enemies of the Constitution as essential allies. “It is clear that any solutions must be acceptable to a wide range of political views from both ends of the spectrum,” says the MVA letter, stressing their “non-partisan” hands-across-the-aisle theme of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents working together.
One Indiana Democrat who is planning to attend Mount Vernon Assembly - Indianapolis is state Senator Jim Arnold, who was asked to participate by organizer David Long, the state Senate’s Republican president. Arnold is looking forward to constructive bipartisanship. “I'm not going to be involved in any kind of bomb throwing, any kind of protesting or disruptive measures,” Arnold told The Times of Northwest Indiana. He added: “Senator Long assured me that is not the intention, that it's going to be bipartisan, so I'm really looking forward to it.”
But should conservatives and constitutionalists who — unlike liberals — want to limit government look forward to a “bipartisan” approach to amending the U.S. Constitution? Obviously, the Left-Right coalition Gomez warned against in his aforementioned article entails mismatched pedigrees and agendas; just as obviously, as Gomez also pointed out, the competing and conflicting political interests could culminate in constitutional changes that do great harm to our Constitution while ostensibly improving it.
However, it appears that Mount Vernon Assembly leaders are aware that there is growing concern in conservative circles about whether a constitutional convention populated by Left-Right collaborators will perform as promised. MVA’s May 21 letter seemingly attempts to quell concerns by claiming that “political purity” — an impossibility when political interests representing both ends of the political spectrum contribute to the outcome — will be maintained:
It is important to once again note that there are no outside organizations involved in this. The Article V process was established by our founders with the intent that the state legislatures, as direct representatives of the people, ensure the Constitution remains the will of the people and not special interest groups. Political purity must be maintained if any effort is to be successful. If any organization makes claim to being related, they are doing so inappropriately. [Emphasis added.]
Like virtually all other groups promoting a constitutional convention, the MVA has been dismissive of any dangers presented by their Article V approach, specifically discounting any concerns of a “runaway convention,” a very real peril that we have addressed many times (see here, here, and here ).
Photo: Indiana Statehouse