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Coburn Letter Response to Schaffly


Like most conservatives, I am heartbroken to witness the apparent disintegration of Eagle Forum. Phyllis Schlafly has the heart of a patriot and has done amazing work over the years on behalf of conservatism in this nation. Sadly, however, she appears to have succumbed to the influence of operatives who will stop at nothing in their quest to degrade our Constitution and the Article V process it bequeaths to you, our state legislatures, for curtailing federal overreach and restoring the balance of power inherent in our federal system.

I seldom respond to personal attacks, but the recent letter circulated by these new Eagle Forum operatives under Mrs. Schlafly’s signature was so outrageous that I could not allow it to go unanswered. That letter suggests that I was responsible for giving Justice Elena Kagan her seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nothing could be further from the truth. And the truth speaks for itself, in the record of my votes against Justice Kagan’s confirmation for the Supreme Court both in the Senate Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor.

The beleaguered Eagle Forum folks cleverly stopped just short of actually committing libel, but as far as I’m concerned, a person or organization that will engage in this kind of deceitful innuendo can’t be trusted to tell the whole truth on anything. And in this case, the rest of the letter bears that out.

For instance, the author (I still refuse to believe Mrs. Schlafly would stoop to these tactics) suggests that the late Justice Scalia was adamantly opposed to the use of Article V. In fact, we know from the transcript of a full-on Article V policy discussion that while Scalia was opposed to an open, unlimited “constitutional convention,” he favored a limited convention to impose restraints on the federal government, even as he recognized the minimal risks involved: “If the only way to remove us from utter bondage to the Congress, is to take what I think to be a minimal risk on this limited convention, then let’s take it.”[1]

As for Eagle Forum’s reliance upon the feelings of Justice Burger regarding the use of Article V, one can only be astounded. Is it any wonder that the Supreme Court Justice who presided over the disastrous Roe v. Wade decision would balk at the use of Article V at a time when states were passing Article V applications for a convention to reverse that disgraceful precedent and enshrine the right to life for unborn babies in our Constitution?

As you prepare to cast what may be the most important vote you will cast all session—deciding whether Missouri will stand against the rampant abuses of power in Washington, D.C.—I urge you not to be manipulated by deceitful fearmongering. I urge you to stand strong for the Constitution on behalf of the people of Missouri and vote “yea” for HCR 57.

         For Liberty,


        Tom Coburn, MD

[1] Speaking at American Enterprise Institute Forum, “A Constitutional Convention: How Well Would It Work?” (1979).