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Tennessee

Response to Campaign for Liberty Fear-mongering

The Tennessee Leader of Campaign for Liberty, Charles Cook, has not once contacted any of the Tennessee leaders of the Convention of States Project to discuss his concerns, which could have been easily put to rest.   It is clear from this lack of communication that he is not seeking truth. His slick marketing e-mail hit piece was intended only to inflame passions and trade on fear to raise the profile of the group. They insinuate that they are the only ones who have studied the constitution and are the only ones who know the truth. These tactics are despicable and are what keeps limited government groups split up instead of trying to work together. It is a shameful hit piece not based in any true research or even any basic logic.

Many people may not know that Campaign for Liberty uses the e-mail platform used by the National Association of Gun Rights. Thus many of the people targeted by this Campaign for Liberty hit pieces are Second Amendment advocates. Scott Williams, the State Director of the Convention of States Project (COSP TN) is a life-long gun enthusiast as well as a former Army helicopter pilot. He is also a federally licensed firearm dealer who resells weapons and manufactures ammunition. Further, there are hundreds, if not thousands of carry permit holders in Tennessee, including most of the COSP TN leadership, who support our effort. None of these people would be supporting the COSP TN project if they believed it would endanger our 2nd amendment rights or would allow ANYONE to shred the constitution.

These false arguments raised by Campaign for Liberty have been asked and answered many times. The 23 Senators who voted for the resolution in 2015 completely rejected all of the same false arguments. The current 59 cosponsors in the Tennessee House of Representatives also reject these tired arguments.   None of these lawmkers believe that the article V process, unanimously inserted by the FOUNDERS into Article V on September 15, 1787, is anything but dangerous. In fact, they know that it is the solution the Founders gave to us for such a time as now.

All of these old, tired arguments have been rejected over and over again by national leading limited-government advocates.  Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, Economist Thomas Sowell and Senator Marco Rubio recently added their names to the already long list of Article V advocates.

We get tired of writing responses like this. But we feel we must do so to ensure that everyone gets the truth. We are all about saving our country and serving our fellow citizens

By the way, this response is being sent to the Tennessee leaders of the Campaign for Liberty. We welcome a private one-on-one discussion with them. Our guess, however, is that they will not be interested in such a civil exchange of ideas.

C4L: Dear <name>

C4L: A resolution calling for a dangerous Article V Convention, S.J.R. 67, is scheduled for a hearing in the House State Government Committee this Tuesday, January 26.

Response: Note that there is no background provided. They jump right into inflaming passions. You can see from the start that this is not about logic and reason, but about whipping up a frenzy regardless of truth.  What is truly dangerous is not the convention, but those who attempt to trade on fears and passions conjecturing about scenarios which could never happen and in so doing allow the very real, dangerous runaway federal government continue to steal power from the states and rob We the People of our liberty! What is dangerous is the fearmongering of people who are living in the past and who continue to carry water for groups who want a larger federal governmentand who first started the whole runaway convention myth in order to protect the overreach of the federal government. These fearmongers do not search for truth or choose to ignore the truth in order to prey on unsuspecting people on their e-mail lists. What is dangerous is a group who offers no solution but instead spends their time only tearing down other groups who are working to save our constitutional republic.

C4L: The resolution passed the Tennessee Senate at the end of the 2015 session.

Response: Yes, It passed in the Tennessee Senate by an overwhelming vote of 23-5, in spite of attempts of the Campaign for Liberty to stop it. The Senators learned of the tactics of Campaign for Liberty and other groups and rejected their false arguments and their tactics. In fact, all of these arguments have been rejected over and over, but the message has not yet gotten out to everyone. Campaign for Liberty is preying on those who have not yet heard the truth.

C4L: S.J.R. 67 attempts to utilize the untested Convention process to propose and ratify amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Response:

Lets be clear about this: The Founders selected the convention process because it HAD been tested! Do you think the very wise leaders at the 1787 convention who produced the U.S. Constitution, the greatest man-made governing document in the history of the world, would have suggested an untested and unknown process for amending that very same document? Of course not!! To suggest otherwise is to dishonor the Founders themselves.

Interstate conventions were HEAVILY TESTED prior to 1787 and have been used many times since 1787. Interstate conventions have not only been tested, they have passed the test every time.

There were about 30 interstate conventions in the 100 years prior to 1787. In fact, the colonies, and later the states, conducted interstate conventions about every 40 months on average. In the 11 years between 1776 and 1787, there were 11 interstate conventions  about 1 per year. Conventioneering was commonplace in the founding era. Most of the Founders at the 1787 Philadelphia convention had attended one or more interstate conventions prior to 1787. Roger Sherman was on his 6th interstate convention when he attended the 1787 convention. Thus, when the Founders used the phrase convention of states in Article V, they were carefully selecting the most TRUSTED and TESTED process they knew for states to gather and decide on issues.   Under Article V, this meant that the Founders fully expected the states to use a convention as a safe way for the people to be represented in the process of proposing amendments.  They realized that this process may be needed if a time should come that Congress and the federal government engaged in tyranny and would refuse to offer amendments to overturn that tyranny. They wanted a bloodless process by which the people could take back stolen power and end the tyranny.

The interstate convention process they chose had an overwhelming body of common practices and procedures. This was not some crazy, unknown, untested idea. It had been used by the Founders repeatedly.

Whats more, the interstate convention process has been used many times since 1787. The most recent convention was held in 1922, the interstate convention to write the Colorado River Compact.

Here are some of the most important features of EVERY interstate convention prior to 1787 and after 1787:

  • ALL interstate conventions have been one-state, one-vote. The voting has NEVER been based on population or electoral college counts. This is a convention of STATES, not electors or even delegates.
  • ALL interstate conventions have been limited to a topic in the calls for the convention and ALL conventions have stayed within their topics.
  • The states have ALWAYS selected their own delegates (technically, commissioners) No other body has EVER selected delegates for the state  particularly not Congress.
  • The states have ALWAYS set the procedural rules at EVERY interstate convention. No other body has EVER determined the rules  particularly not Congress.
  • The states have ALWAYS selected their own leaders at the convention.


Interstate conventions have not been held in recent decades, but that does not make them mysterious, unknown processes. Of course, Campaign for Liberty is depending on the fact that most people living today were not living when the last interstate convention occurred.  Campaign for Liberty wants to capitalize on that fear of the unknown. They certainly do not bring up any of this history of interstate conventions  because that would remove the fear and that would not allow them to capitalize on that fear.

Did the Founders just get a wild hair when they chose to insert the convention method for proposing amendments? Of course not! The Founders selected the right tool for the job. In fact, the Founders selected that process UNANIMOUSLY and WITHOUT DEBATE! They knew EXACTLY what they were doing. They selected the tool which would help the people, through their state legislatures, decide HOW to rein in an out-of-control federal government.

Campaign for Liberty cannot seem to think hard enough to ask some basic questions about the convention of states process in Article V. Why did the Founders choose an interstate convention as a method to propose amendments? What did the Founders mean when they decided to use the words convention of states in Article V? What was the Founders prior experience with conventions which would shed light on their choice? Why does Campaign for Liberty fail to ask these very basic questions? More importantly, why do they fail to ask these basic questions when so many groups and leaders in the last decade or so have been asking these questions repeatedly and coming up with solid answers from historical records?  The answer is simple: Campaign for Liberty does not truly trust the Founders! In effect, Campaign for Liberty is saying that the Founders had no idea what they were doing when they UNANIMOUSLY inserted the convention of states method for proposing amendments at the 1787 convention. Campaign for Liberty also implies that NONE of the state ratifying conventions caught this supposed drastic error of using an untested process. To suggest that all of these smart founders missed such a supposedly glaring mistake in Article V is just plain ludicrous.

Campaign for Liberty might say they believe in the 1787 Constitution. Yet, here they are telling people to ignore a portion of that very same document! Campaign for Liberty states they support the 2nd amendment, but they dishonor the very same Founders who were directly involved in the authoring of the 2nd amendment and ensuring that the 2nd amendment was ratified by the States.

The issue here is that Campaign for Liberty does not know (or conveniently choose to ignore) history because it does not fit their narrative of fear. They use their narrative of fear to tear down other limited government groups in an effort to raise their own profile. They are constitutional bullies. Truth does not matter to them, only fear, power and ego. Like our childhood playground bullies who grew up to be hated by everyone and had no friends, in the end, they will hurt no one else but themselves. It is truly sad that they cannot find better ways to spend their time and energy than to just tear down other groups. They are constitutional hypocrites  saying in one breath that they support the Constitution and in the next breath saying  but dont you dare believe in that part we dont agree with!

Campaign for Libertys research is WAY out of date. They are relying on runaway convention talking points first promulgated over 50 years ago by groups seeking more power for the federal government: http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/rob-natelson/how-liberal-propagandists-suckered-conservatives-opposing-amendments. Campaign for Liberty is carrying the water for larger-government forces. They obviously dont care so long as they can raise their own profile attacking other groups by spreading fear and pretending they are the only ones who know history and the constitution and they are the only ones who are logical. The rest of us are just looney tunes to them.

C4L: Some people think calling a constitutional convention will help create new limits on the federal government.

Response: Who are these some people? Its actually quite a long list:

Limited Government Politicians: Ronald Reagan, Texas Governor Gregg Abbot, Senator and Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz, Former Senator Tom Coburn, Senator and Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio, Governor Bobby Jindal, Colonel Allen West, Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Ron Johnson and Governor Sarah Palin

Thought Leaders: Economist Thomas Sowell, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Lt. Colonel Bill Cowan

Tennessee Tea Party Leaders: Lee Douglas (Nashville 9-12 Project), Ben Cunningham (Nashville Tea Party), Mark West (Chattanooga Tea Party), Tricia Stickel (Maury County Tea Party), Mary Cook (Smoky Mountain Tea Party) and others.

It also includes almost 12,000 people who have liked Convention of States Project Tennessee Facebook page. It also includes over 8,000 Tennesseans who have signed the petition to their state lawmakers.

It also includes over 1,200,000 people across the country who are already participating in the project.

The Convention of States Project is much more than just some people. In fact, this all begs the question about who the some people are who would send out false information and say ALL of these some people are frauds. Just who are the real frauds here?

C4L: (repeated) C4L: Some people think calling a constitutional convention will help create new limits on the federal government.

Response: Lets look at the operative language of the Convention of States resolution to see if it would limit the federal government:

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE ONE HUNDRED NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING, that this legislative body does hereby apply to Congress under the provisions of Article V of the United States Constitution for the calling of a convention of the states, limited to proposing amendments to the United States Constitution that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.

Do you see anywhere in this language the opportunity for the convention to do anything other than place limits on the federal government?

Note that this same operative language has been passed in 4 states and has been filed in 34 other states.

C4L: But the truth is, our Constitution could be shredded if any bill calling for a dangerous Article V Constitutional Convention passes in Tennessee.

COS Response: The real truth is that the Constitution has already been shredded by the federal government and more of it continues to be shredded day by day. This is simple, folks. All branches of the federal government believe that what they are doing today is constitutional  according to THEIR interpretation.

To make this very real, please do an internet search for Annotated Constitution. You will find a thick book of over 2,800 pages which is printed under the authority of the United States Senate and is a collection of the federal governments interpretation of the constitution.

C4L: Its critical you contact the members of the House State Government Committee RIGHT NOW and demand they actively oppose and vote NO on S.J.R. 67 or any other bill calling for a dangerous Article V Convention.

COS Response: In Article V, the Founders gave the Supreme power in this country to the state legislatures. YOUR state representative and state senator have the duty and honor to stand between the citizens of this great country and an out-of-control federal government. Yet Campaign for Liberty is telling you to tell your state lawmakers to sit by the wayside. Campaign for Liberty is asking you to tell your state lawmakers that you and they should just hope that maybe something someday might happen which could possibly result in some unknown change which may or may not be significant. In other words, they are suggesting that our state lawmakers ignore the Founders and do NOTHING. Campaign for Liberty are FAR from being supporters of the constitution!

C4L: The federal government has been ignoring the limits placed on it by the Constitution for years.

COS Response: On this we agree. However, Campaign for Liberty offers no solution. They just want to manufacture fear, uncertainty and doubt and then trade off of that fear.

When politicians ignore the Constitution with impunity, passing another amendment isn't going to change that.

COS Response: Here is the real question: do amendments work? Do women have the vote? Are presidents limited to two terms? Do people get to start voting at age 18? Do blacks vote? Has slavery been abolished? Do Vice Presidents have to have the same qualifications as Presidents? The fact is that clear, well-written amendments DO work!!

Again, Campaign for Liberty would not have you ask this question because it does not fit within their narrative of fear.

C4L: Some Article V Convention supporters think a constitutional convention can be limited to certain types or categories of changes. And many people believe this bill limits a convention to specific issues. But that simply is not true.

COS Response: Yes the topic is limited. Again, all prior interstate conventions have been limited. They are limited by:

1) The topic in the applications of the 34 states which call for the convention
2) By the delegates who will be selected by the state legislatures and thus will be trusted individuals
3) By the instructions the state legislatures will give their delegates
4) By the fact that many state legislatures, including Tennessee, have faithful delegate laws which make it a felony for the delegates to not abide by the topic and the instructions.

On top of that, you must remember that the convention can only PROPOSE amendments. The convention does not directly amend the constitution. Any amendments proposed out of the convention must be ratified by 3/4 of the states (38 states) before they have the force of law and become part of the constitution. But of course, Campaign for Liberty never brings up the fact that Article V is very clear on how the process works. It would not fit Campaign for Libertys narrative of fear.

Most scholars agree a constitutional convention cannot be limited.

COS Response: Wha are these supposed scholars? What are their credentials?

Here are the very real, actual scholars on the Convention of States Legal Board of References, all with impeccable credentials who are seen as leaders in their areas of expertise:

  • Randy E. Barnett: Georgetown University Center for the Constitution,
  • Charles J. Cooper: Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, Outside Counsel for NRA,
  • Dr John C. Eastman: Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence,
  • Michael Farris: Chancellor of Patrick Henry College, Professor of Constitutional Law, Appellate Litigator who actually won an Article V case in the Supreme Court and Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association,
  • Robert P. George: Princeton University, McCormick Chair
  • C. Boyden Gray: Former Ambassador and Founding Partner of Boyden Gray & Associates, a Washington, D.C. law firm.
  • Mark Levin: Constitutional Lawyer and well-known political commentator.
  • Andrew McCarthy: Senior Fellow at National Review Institute


In addition, one of the premier constitutional lawyers in the country today is Rob Natelson, Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute in Colorado. Dr. Natelson's work has been cited by the Supreme Court 17 times in five different cases just since 2013. As a point of interest, Dr. Natelson spoke to Tenth Amendment Center in 2013 regarding the second amendment: http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2013/04/01/the-founders-and-the-2nd-amendment/ Here is Dr. Natelson's full profile: http://constitution.i2i.org/about/

In addition to that, there are many lawyers in the ranks of the Convention of States Project leadership, including many of our Legislative Liaisons across the country.

C4L: And thats just one reason why Tennessee Campaign for Liberty opposes an Article V Constitutional Convention.

COS Response: They make a false assertion (that many scholars agree with them  when there are actually many who disagree with them), assume you will believe that assertion to be true without checking out the facts and then ask you to act on their false assertion.

C4L: Its absolutely critical you contact the members of the House State Government Committee RIGHT NOW and demand they actively oppose and vote NO on S.J.R. 67 or any other bill calling for a dangerous Article V Convention.

COS Response: Once more, Campaign for Liberty is asking to you act AGAINST the clear and direct process established by the Founders to rein in an out-of-control federal government.

C4L: One group supporting a convention points out on its own website that if a convention is called. . .

. . .the convention of states itself would determine which ideas deserve serious consideration. . .

COS Response: No citations as to which group said this and in what context. In the end, the topic of the convention controls what can be considered at the convention.

C4L: And what they fail to point out is that literally hundreds of progressive organizations, such as Sierra Club, Code Pink, Alliance for Progressive Values, MoveOn, and Occupy, have been pushing for a convention since 2009!

Do you trust the hundreds of progressive organizations calling for an Article V Convention to do the right thing and rein in the federal government?

Do you trust the powerful special interests, backed by George Soros and his ilk, to do the right thing?

COS Response: Campaign for Liberty makes a HUGE error in logic here, but they hope you will be reading quickly and just miss it.

Yes, there are groups whose purpose is to increase the power of the federal government who ARE trying to get THEIR OWN application on THEIR OWN SEPARATE TOPIC through state legislatures. That application, commonly called the Wolf-PAC application, due to the name of the coalition behind it, is limited to the topic of overturning Citizens United versus the FEC.

What does his mean? I tmeans that the forces on the other side have understand and agree that they cannot raise their campaign finance idea at a convention called under the COS application. They have realized that if they want to get their idea into a convention, they must pass their own application. Notice that they are limiting their application to THEIR topic. They have limited the topic in order that limited government groups, such as the Convention of State Project, cannot raise our ideas at their convention. In other words, all of these other groups seeking a larger federal government agree that an Article V convention of states will be limited by the topic of the applications from the 34 states. They cannot raise their topic at a convention called under the COS topics and we cannot raise our desired amendments to limit the power of the federal government at a convention called under their topic.

Campaign for Liberty fails to highlight these facts. They twist the truth in order to spread their narrative of fear.

By the way, the Wolf-PAC application has passed in four of the most government-controlled states in the country. But they will not ever get past about 11 or so states. After that, they will hit a political wall as most of the other states will NEVER even so much as introduce, much less pass that resolution.

C4L: <first name of recipient>, there is no way a convention can be limited.

COS Response: Answered above.

C4L: Article V of the Constitution only allows states to apply to Congress for a convention - once the required number of states submit their applications, Congress issues the call.

Article V does not empower the states to have any control over the convention itself.

You would have NO control over the rules of the convention or who attends to represent you.

COS Response: Campaign for Liberty's logic truly goes off the rails at this point. They assert that the states have no control over the convention. This assertion flies in the face of the clear language of Article V.

Article V sets out two methods for proposing amendments. The first method is for both houses of Congress to propose amendments by a 2/3 majority vote. The second method is for the states to apply to Congress for a convention of states to propose amendments. Congress collects and counts those applications and when there are enough applications on the same topic, Congress shall call a convention.

What Campaign for Liberty wants you to believe is that the call means that Congress controls every aspect of the convention. Think about that for a minute. This would mean that Congress not only controls the first method for proposing amendments but they ALSO control the second method for proposing amendments. Why would the Founders, who were brilliant men, give Congress a second method to propose amendments, but then ADD the extra hurdle that Congress cannot use that second method until the States apply and that Congress must select delegates from each of the states to attend and that Congress must set the rules and that Congress must control the topics which can be introduced and so on. Why would Congress go through all of these extra steps when they could just propose an amendment at any time? This is just plain silly. In fact, it is so silly that it casts significant dispersions upon the Founders. By asserting that the word call means Congress controls the convention, Campaign for Liberty makes the Founders out to be morons. The Founders were anything but morons.

No, the word call does NOT mean that Congress controls the convention OF STATES. It means that Congress sets the date and place for the first meeting. After that, the States take over. In fact, this is what happened with the 1921 Colorado River Compact convention. Congress set the date and place for the first meeting. After that, the delegates from the states took over and the meetings actually moved around to several cities during the process.

In the Article V convention process, like ALL prior interstate conventions, the states select their own delegates. The delegates then select their own leaders. The delegates then set their own rules. After the first meeting, they even control when and where they will meet next.

So please contact the members of the House State Government Committee RIGHT NOW.

Demand they actively oppose and vote NO on S.J.R. 67 or any other bill calling for a dangerous Article V Convention.

COS Response: Be wary of groups who tell you to act in direct contradiction with the explicit instructions of the Founders.

C4L: Do you remember how Establishment Republicans treated the liberty delegates at the 2012 GOP conventions?

Imagine what will happen at a convention being held to manipulate the U.S. Constitution, with BOTH Republican and Democrat Establishment and hundreds of progressive, George Soros-types pulling the strings.

COS Response: Campaign for Liberty seeks to confuse the issues by trying to make you associate PARTY CONVENTION delegates with CONVENTION OF STATES delegates. Just because both delegates are attending conventions does not mean the conventions are the same. PARTY CONVENTIONS are controlled by NATIONAL leaders at the FEDERAL level (in both parties). The delegates to party conventions, under the bylaws of each party are given significant power. The delegates to the CONVENTION OF STATES are limited to specific topics  not just anything they want to do.

C4L: A convention is extremely dangerous  especially today!

COS Response: No, what is dangerous is the current runaway federal government. What is dangerous are the groups who fail to follow the explicit instructions of the Founders. What is dangerous is the national debt. What is dangerous is the stifling effects of overregulation on our economy. What is dangerous is an out-of-control Supreme Court who legislate from the bench. What is dangerous is a Congress who have burdened each newborn child with over 50,000 in debt the moment they take their first breath.

What is dangerous is hoping that if we keep trying what has been tried for the last several decades we might get a different result when all we have seen is a federal government which continues to steal power from the states and liberty from we citizens.

What is dangerous is faulty logic and trying to make people respond to fear.

C4L: This bill must be stopped.

COS Response: Campaign for Liberty must be stopped. Many thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people in the COS movement have decided to unsubscribe from the Campaign for Liberty e-mail lists and to stop donating to Campaign for Liberty and their sister organization (same leaders), the National Association of Gun Rights.

C4L: In Liberty,

Charles Cook
Tennessee Campaign for Liberty

COS Response: The only liberty Campaign for Liberty is seeking is the liberty to continue spreading fear and to take swipes at TRUE liberty-minded groups.

P.S. If an Article V Convention were called, it would likely be impossible to stop devastating changes from being made to our Constitution. According to Americas history of conventions, the delegates chosen could wield unlimited power to propose revisions to our Constitution.

COS Response: Ask yourself if any of the actions liberty groups have taken in the last decade have made any significant dent in the growth of the power and jurisdiction the federal government believes it has. The answer is a resounding No. The definition of insanity is trying the same thing twice and expecting a different result. It is WAY PAST time that we do what the FOUNDERS told us to do in the first place  rein in an out-of-control federal government by correcting the false interpretations of the Constitution and restoring original intent.

Its critical you contact the members of the House State Government Committee RIGHT NOW and demand they actively oppose and vote NO on S.J.R. 67 or any other bill calling for a dangerous Article V Convention.

COS Response: Again, do you really want to act in a way contradicting the Founders? Please call your state representative and urge them to vote Yes on SJR0067 and to cosponsor the resolution, joining the existing 59 cosponsors of the resolution.