A coalition of progressive special-interest groups funded by George Soros issued a press statement on Wednesday announcing their opposition to an Article V convention. The Brennan Center for Justice, Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, Citizens for Responsibility and
Ethics in Washington (CREW), Democracy 21, and People for the American Way announced they were joining forces to prevent the first ever Article V convention in the history of the United States.
The coalition’s statement contained inaccurate and misleading information about an Article V convention. The coalition claimed that an Article V convention is a constitutional convention. This is not the case. Article V is one of two permissible methods under the Constitution of the United States for the creation of amendments. A convention is called by Congress when two-thirds (34) of state legislatures submit applications calling for a constitutional amendment on the same subject.
The coalition argued, “Any existing constitutional right and protection could be up for consideration and revision by a convention. This includes constitutional protections for civil rights, civil liberties, voting rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and privacy, among others.”
Constitutional law scholar Rob Natelson said that a convention is strictly limited to the subject matter stated in the applications submitted by state legislatures and in the official call issued by Congress. It would be impossible for delegates to push for constitutional amendments outside of the scope of the official convention call. Seven states have already passed delegate limitation and selection laws that impose criminal penalties for delegates that violate convention rules.
Dave Guldenschuh, a Heartland Policy Adviser for constitutional reform issues, told Somewhat Reasonable that an additional seven states are considering delegate selection and limitation laws in 2016.
Another charge brought up by the coalition is that the rules for a possible Article V convention remain up in the air.
“Furthermore, there are no rules on what would happen if and when a convention is called: no rules on how delegates are chosen, how voting occurs at the convention, how money can be spent to choose and influence delegates, or how the convention would operate,” said the left-wing coalition.
Multiple organizations in the Article V movement have already addressed the issue of convention rules. Compact for America’s model legislation establishes their own convention rules, while Convention of States has proposed rules of their own written by Natelson. The Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL) made considerable progress on their own rules during a meeting in November in Utah. The ASL is expected to vote on full ratification during this summer’s meeting, which will occur in Albany, New York or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Soros-backed Foundation to Promote an Open Society has provided significant funding to the coalition opposing Article V. The Brennan Center received $7.4 million from 2000 to 2010; Center for Media and Democracy received a total of $200,000 in 2010 and 2011; Common Cause received $175,000 in 2011; CREW received $740,000 since 2010; Democracy 21 received $365,000 in 2010 and 2011; and People for the American Way received $700,000 in 2012 alone.