Wednesday, April 20, 2016


About every week or so for the last three years, I get an email from Mark Meckler.

Mark Meckler is a vey bright, very energetic, very charismatic, very patriotic lawyer from California. He was a founder of the largest Tea Party in the United States, known as the Tea Party Patriots.

He served as President of that organization for some time during its formative years , but has since resigned to create an entity known as Citizens for Self Governance.

Citizens for Self Governance is one of many places on the Internet that seek to give voice to the frustration of the American people over the ineptitude and disarray of our national government.

Currently, Meckler is engaged in two projects. He is suing the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of organizations which claim to have been discriminated against because of their political opinions and he is supporting Convention of the States, an effort to require the Congress to call an Article V amendatory constitutional convention.

And he is energetically raising money for both purposes.  I don’t know how successful he has been. It seems that each plea is a little more frantic than the last. I have been waiting to see celebratory announcements that fund raising goals have been reached.

Every time one of his solicitations lands in my mailbox, I grieve a little. It is so sad to see a man of his obvious abilities and motivation frittering away his productive years chasing such ill advised and ephemeral objectives.

Certainly self governance is a goal with which most Americans would agree. The bedrock of our common civic heritage begins with the words, “We The People.”

But how much self governance is involved in the process of invoking a federal court to make the IRS reimburse Tea Party organizers for their expenses in trying to get classified as tax exempt organizations? 

I suppose there is a certain satisfaction associated with throwing sand in the eyes of the bureaucrats, but the reimbursement they seek, if it comes, will come from the tax payers. Not exactly a blow for freedom.

Meckler’s other initiative is equally tenuous. The notion that the Congress of the United States can somehow be badgered into calling a convention for the purpose of clipping its own wings is patently contradictory.

Even if, in theory, petitions by a united and vocal super majority of 34 state legislatures would raise a serious political storm in Washington D.C., the universal fear of a ‘run away’ convention among state legislators, the media and the public at large makes the project more than daunting.

Despite the plethora of academic opinions to the effect that an Article V convention can somehow be limited to a single subject or proposal, the fact is universally conceded that, once convened, a convention is sui juris – a law unto itself.

The very fact that state legislatures find it necessary to impose criminal penalties on delegates who disobey their instructions is proof aplenty that the delegates have the power to disobey their marching orders.

In the last analysis, however a convention comes into being, its work product will be judged by two simple standards: 1) does the convention represent the people of the United States? and 2) does the proposal it makes have the support and approval of the American people?

Convention of the States, like almost all other Article V initiatives, contemplates a convention in which each State will have one vote. Obviously, since amendments must be ratified by 38 States, state by state voting is important.

But it is a serious mistake to eschew any voting that reflects the population of the nation. The League of Women Voters insists that convention votes be taken by the delegates and that delegates be proportional to population.The rules of Convention USA incorporate both ways of voting, so that a super majority of the states and a majority of the delegates are both required.

It’s really the same compromise that our Founders made when they invented a bicameral legislature. Makes sense to me.

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