Tuesday, February 24, 2009


With three lawyer sons, and two lawyers sons-in-law, my darling wife has always banned dinner table conversation about the law at family gatherings. I confess that I greatly enjoy those occasions when her instructions are ignored. I always come away from family discussions both better informed and impressed with the level of discourse.

That said, I am pleased to report that our oldest son, Retired District Court Judge Thomas E. Brennan, Jr., has chimed into the Article V blogs with this email:

"Boy, I'm getting a kick out of your last three entries as you answer the challenge of both the conservative business lawyer who reveres the constitution much like the Ten Commandments (Bill) and the liberal academician who treats the constitution as a mere reference point for basic tenets to serve as guidelines (John).

I remember a few years back, while still on the bench, I attended a state-wide judicial conference featuring two renowned Ivy-league professors who debated the issue of judicial activism versus judicial restraint. I asked the perhaps naive question, "Could we not put an end to this constant discussion by simply calling for and advocating constitutional conventions when necessary to keep up with the changing times?" The professors looked dumbfounded at first, before politely answering that, indeed, that could be a solution ... but not likely to ever happen.

At the break, then Michigan Chief Justice Clifford Taylor, a Federalist Society conservative, rudely confronted me with this scold: "That's the dumbest idea you could ever utter! You want to put the future of this country in the hands of a bunch of crazy people!"

His words were as arrogant as the tone in his voice. It is the elitism of our current government officials who feel only they know what is best for the masses that stems any tide for proper reform or affirmation of our constitutional principles.

Besides, maybe the former Chief Justice forgot that the men who gathered in Philadelphia 230 years ago were seen by many of their peers as "crazy" when really they were courageous and determined!"

The shrill outburst by Justice Taylor echoes the reaction of many to the idea of an Article V convention. It grieves me to think that Americans regard their constitutional right to propose amendments so trivially.

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