Thursday, November 5, 2015


Being married to Polly for 64 years qualifies me to brag about my humility.

Back in 1962 when I began service as a Judge of the Detroit Common Pleas Court, several of my lawyer friends used to drive me downtown. One snowy winter morning, the fellows were at the curb honking the horn and I was making haste to get out the door.

Polly pulled my overcoat out of the closet and held it up by the shoulders. I assumed she wanted me to put my arms into the sleeves and turned my back attempting to do so.

Surprise. My dear wife did not hold the coat up. She dropped it on the floor, announcing cheerfully, “Put it on yourself, big deal judge!”

I was still laughing when I got into the car and told the guys. They promptly christened me the “BDJ.” a nickname that stuck for many years. Sometimes you have to wait until all your friends are dead before the razzing stops.

There are many opportunities to exercise and enjoy the virtue of humility. For instance, this morning, while searching for an essay written by a friend, I stumbled onto the web site of The Heartland Institute, a Chicago based think tank which operates a thing called the Center for Constitutional Reform.

Among the pages on that web site, I found a list entitled “Leaders of the Constitutional Reform Movement.” Under that title, a dozen organizations are identified. No mention of Judge Thomas E. Brennan, the book I wrote or Convention USA, which has been on the Internet at  for more than five years.

I suppose that some people who have been writing and speaking about the Article V Convention since 1982 as I have, might be somewhat put off to see that they are not recognized as leaders of the movement.

Not I. I am keenly aware that my efforts are not directed toward a “conventional” convention. I have been cheerfully marching to a different drummer, content in the knowledge that what I am doing is both more practical and more philosophically sound than the efforts of the recognized leaders of the movement.

Here are the differences:
All of the other “Fivers” (supporters of an Article V Convention) are trying to get 34 State legislatures to ask Congress to call a limited convention.

I don’t think Congress will ever call a convention, no matter what the State legislatures ask for or how many of them ask.

All of the other Fivers fear a ‘run away’ convention.

I don’t.

All of the other Fivers want a convention controlled by the State governments.

I believe an Article V convention is an assembly, not of the States, but of the people of the States. There’s a difference.

All of the other Fivers are working within the so-called ‘two party’ system, either proposing amendments favored by conservatives or favored by progressives.

I believe a convention must be non partisan; not bi-partisan. There is a difference.

In short, unlike the recognized leaders of the Article V movement, I believe that the only way the people of the fifty states can take their government back from the career politicians who infest Washington, D.C., is to organize and conduct an amendatory constitutional convention and propose the necessary reforms of our national government.

Whether those reforms are finally ratified and become part of our Constitution is a political question. It will depend on the wisdom and merits of the proposals and the popular support for them.

But that is always the case, isn’t it?



  1. Judge, you haven't totally been forgotten by Heartland and certainly not by me. If you go to the following page on the Heartland website (, there is a link to an article I have written on the status of the Article V movement. In that article at page 14, I have acknowledged all of your work - as a founder of FOAVC and ConventionUSA, your seminal article in 1982 and your recent book. Granted, you have to know where to look for it, but I consider you a mentor and founding father of the modern day Article V movement.

  2. David:
    Thanks for the kind words. Joe Bast and I had a good conversation and I believe Heartland will help Convention USA.