"We The People"

"We The People" by Jonathan Thorne on flickr

This is in the voice of Demand Progress’s David Segal, who’s helping to organize the conference:

Here’s an email that Fix Congress First put out about a conference I’m helping to organize — The Conference on the Constitutional Convention at Harvard, Sept 24-25 — to discuss the feasibility and advisability of organizing towards an Article V convention, to deal with the rot in Washington.  Everybody’s welcome to attend and share with their lists:

We’re writing to invite you to attend an important upcoming conference at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA. It’s called the Conference on the Constitutional Convention, and more info can be found at www.ConConCon.orgFrom both the Right and the Left, citizens are increasingly coming to recognize that our Republic does not work as our Framers intended.  Reform of any kind is stalled by a status quo that profits from blocking change. No side in the political debate benefits from this inertia.

The Framers created the Article V Constitutional Convention as a way to escape captured government: If two-thirds of the state legislatures pass resolutions calling for a convention, then all sides will have the opportunity to argue for the changes they believe will restore our Republic. Any amendment proposed must then be ratified by three fourths of the states to become law.

On September 24th and 25th, people from across America and across the political spectrum will convene at Harvard University to discuss the advisability and feasibility of organizing towards a Constitutional Convention. The conference’s lead organizers include proponents and opponents of an Article V convention and we actively encourage the participation of those who support a convention, those who are ambivalent, and those who oppose holding a convention at all. The conference is sponsored by Harvard, Fix Congress First, and the Tea Party Patriots; it’s being co-chaired by Fix Congress First’s Lawrence Lessig and the Tea Party Patriots’ Mark Meckler. You can review the agenda and register at www.ConConCon.org.

Thanks so much, and we hope to see you in September.

Joseph Mornin
Fix Congress First

Let me just try to preempt the likely concerns that a Con Con might lead to something terrible:

What you’d hear Lessig and other left-leaning proponents say about potential risk is that the ratification threshold is incredibly difficult to achieve, requiring the assent of 3/4 of states.  Anything seen as too far right or left would be unlikely to vest, but we might have a chance with something like reducing the role of private money in politics where there’s a broad consensus among the electorate.

From an organizing standpoint, having this flank open could help force Congress’s hand — the Senate only released the 17th Amendment (elected Senators) after it was clear that a Con Con would happen if it didn’t.

And standing by and letting the system tend towards complete dysfunction is costly and untenable — it makes sense to explore other options and try to assess their merits.

Here’s an instructive op-ed by Lessig and Republican strategist Mark McKinnon on a Con Con as it relates to Citizens United.