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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Government & Elections

BREAKING (sorta) NEWS: Congress Vetoes Constitution
by John French
Tuesday Mar 6th, 2012 2:20 PM
John Guise criminal lawsuit against members of Congress alleging violation of their oath of office by refusing to call an Article V Convention as required in Article V in our Constitution; summary of legal facts established as a result of Bill Walker's two Supreme Court cases regarding, essentially, the same issue (Walker v. United States; Walker v. Members of Congress; public announcement/outreach re: upcoming e-town hall meeting (non-profit)
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Congress vetos Constitution!

Back in the heyday of the Muckrakers, early in the last century, a young wo/man could have earned good money selling newspapers on a street corner with such a headline on newsprint. But, today, it appears, and quite sadly, that no journalist has the courage to raise her/his voice or raise a pen to write such a story. [FN 1] Today, an editor might even ask if the public has sufficient interest in this story to make it worthy of the front page – this being the most sorrowful notion I can imagine.

I, being the optimist who refuses, on most days, to see the world in anything other than a rose-colored hue, wrote this post for those citizens who believe as I do (and to attempt to convince those who do not, yet, believe as I do); citizens who believe that, if we do not act immediately to begin to reach out to and find common ground with thousands of our neighbors in our community in an effort to unite us all in a common mission to bring an end to this assault on what is most revered in this country (our Constitution), we will have to reckon with our own consciences and the inquiries of our great grandchildren when history reveals how our inaction allowed this tragedy (Congress vetoing the Constitution) to unfold, essentially unchallenged.

Yes. Congress has vetoed the Constitution. Actually, this occurred around the time the Muckrakers (well, a couple decades later, really) were informing the public about the injustices of the oil companies and railroads and the corruption in governments and the other reformative issues of the Progressive Era [FN 2], but, back then, citizens could still realize reform by working within the political system – an option that has been eliminated from reformer’s toolboxes in the interim. Today, in America, the Constitution holds the last hope for We the People to forge a new populist movement for reform of this broken, corrupt political system in Washington that Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law School refers to as “institutional corruption.” [FN 3] But, this last hope for federal reform that is found in Article V in our Constitution has been vetoed by Congress by their refusal to call an Article V Convention as obligated to do by Article V (which simply states that “The Congress… on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…”).

We, here at Article V Convention for Peace, Liberty and Our Children’s Future (AVC4PLOCF – a local non-profit), ask our fellow citizens and neighbors to please consider the criminal lawsuit against the members of Congress (as of 2006 and since) filed by John Guise of Georgia; consider his motivation for filing this lawsuit (and his bravery in doing so); and consider a brief summary of the legal facts that were the basis of this lawsuit – legal facts that were established in two legal actions filed by Bill Walker (and, equally, his bravery in doing so) that went up to the Supreme Court: Walker v. United States (2000) and Walker v. Members of Congress (2004).

First, let’s start, appropriately, with a quote from Bill Walker (excerpt from his presentation in Professor Lessig’s Conference on the Constitutional Convention at Harvard Law School in September) – a quote which, I believe, states clearly and succinctly what is at risk: “Mr. John Guise of Georgia… filed a criminal complaint in July with the Department of Justice against all members of Congress for violation of oath of office for refusal to call a convention... This event marks the end of this issue. It will be officially resolved within a few weeks [actually, months, now – ETA: early May]. Either the government will prosecute congressional members for violation of oath office for failing to call a convention when mandated by the Constitution, meaning ultimately there will be a call, or it will determine members are not required to obey the Constitution, thus, officially nullifying Article V, the supremacy clause and the oath of office clause of the Constitution.” [FN 4]

We ask that everyone pause and consider this statement and allow that to “sink in.” Bill said that, in the latter case (members are not prosecuted and, according to the Justice Department, are not required to obey the Constitution), this “alleged” criminal act by Congress – refusal to call the convention per Article V – will have the affect of “nullifying” this clause in our Constitution, as well as the supremacy and oath of office clauses (OK… Just wanted to ensure everyone got that).

We also ask that everyone please think about this possible scenario and decide, now, how they will react, if this latter scenario (what, I believe, is the most likely scenario) is, actually, the final result of this lawsuit later this year (May?). Please ask yourself: What am I prepared to do? (Of course, we are presuming, with this question, that the common reaction will be outrage and rejection. But, perhaps, our expectation that citizens will fully comprehend the gravity of such an outcome is not realistic.)

Now, let’s proceed to John Guise’s letter to Attorney General Holder in January regarding his criminal lawsuit against members of Congress (filed in July) in which he said: “In the federal lawsuit Walker v Members of Congress, the Solicitor General of the United States acknowledged that a convention call was “peremptory” [meaning that Congress has no discretion in the matter – it must call the convention] and that a sufficient number of applications from the states have been submitted to cause Congress to call a convention. These facts, therefore, are irrefutable as they are all a matter of public record.

“Equally, a matter of public record is the refusal of Congress to obey the Constitution. Their collective oaths of office are explicit. They shall have no ‘mental reservations’ as to obedience to the Constitution, which, as I am sure you are aware, means they must obey the Constitution as written, without hesitation or evasion. Yet, the fact remains the members of Congress have not done so.

“There is no question as to their criminal culpability in this matter. Congress has never even gathered the state applications into a single reference source so that tabulation of them can occur. When called upon by members of the public and more importantly in two federal lawsuits, the members of Congress unanimously [and] publicly opposed obeying the Constitution and calling an Article V Convention. This, again, despite four separate unanimous Supreme Court decisions all decreeing Congress must call a convention if the states so apply.”

He also makes this very poignant remark in this letter: “The fact this nation has never held an Article V Convention does not excuse federal officials from their mandated duty prescribed not only in federal law but in the Constitution as well. The fact they have acted as they have, however, fully explains why we have never had a convention; deliberate and willful acts on the part of Congress to refuse to obey the Constitution.”

And he concludes with a reference to this nation’s Founding: “As a final point, I ask you to read the discussion by members of Congress following the submission of the first application for a convention submitted in 1789 by the state of Virginia. (General Annals of Congress 1 (J. Gales Ed.) Pg 257-61). In that discussion Congressman James Madison (who is credited with writing Article V at the 1787 convention) notes Congress has no right of vote, debate or even the authority of commitment to committee ‘as it would imply Congress had a right to decline.’ Clearly, therefore, the actions of the federal officials I have brought to your attention in this letter are… illegal and investigation is warranted.” [FN 5] [Thank you, Mr. Guise. Well done!]

Now, let’s complete this presentation of the legal material with this excerpt from Bill Walker’s summary of his two legal actions:

“Walker v. Members of Congress was appealed to the Supreme Court. Federal law requires that all facts and law submitted in writs of certiorari by the plaintiff (appellant) to the Supreme Court must either be (1) waived, meaning the defendant (appellee) in the lawsuit admits as a matter of fact and law that the statements made by the plaintiff are true and correct or (2) opposed, in which case federal law requires the defendant give the reasons why the alleged facts and law are not true and correct. The attorney of record for the members of Congress, the Solicitor General of the United States, acting in his official capacity, waived challenging the facts and law presented by the plaintiff in the Walker v. Members of Congress writ of certiorari… The members of Congress (acting through their attorney of record), therefore, admitted in open court for the public record that the following is true and correct as a matter of fact and law:

that under Article V of the United States Constitution, Congress is required to call an Article V Convention if two-thirds of the state legislatures apply for one;

that the Article V Convention call is based on a numeric count of applying states;

that all 50 states have submitted 567 applications for such a convention;

that an Article V Convention call is peremptory on Congress;

that the political subject matter of an amendment application is irrelevant and does not effect Congress’ obligation to call an Article V Convention;

that the refusal of the members of Congress to obey the law of the Constitution and immediately call a convention is a violation of their oath of office as well as a violation of federal criminal law; and,

that by joining a lawsuit to advocate in open public court they can ignore, veto, disobey or otherwise thwart a convention call, the members of Congress violated federal criminal law.”

There it is, ladies and gentlemen. If the Justice Department finds some way to NOT prosecute the members of Congress for their assault on our Constitution in this, apparently, rock-solid case against them, I am anticipating (as I have said before) a Citizens-United-like legal explanation that attempts to make something completely absurd sound plausible. (Stay tuned for that one, folks.)

Fellow citizens and neighbors: Our nation stands at the crossroads. Working-class and middle-class families in America have been robbed (financial crisis, 2008); have had their homes taken from them as a result of fraud (foreclosure crisis, ongoing); have been lied to, repeatedly (and robbed again and again: Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan); have been ignored (too much to cover here, but Kevin Zeese did a great job of enumerating most of the critical national and global issues about which Americans have clearly conveyed their opinions in poll after poll and Washington has continued to turn a deaf ear – a situation our Founding Fathers referred to as taxation without representation) [FN 6]; and, now, we may soon be face-to-face with a decision by the Department of Justice that may, incredibly, “determine members are not required to obey the Constitution.”

What, indeed, are you prepared to do?

We implore all of you to think of yourselves as New Populists; as Muckrakers; and consider the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, who, in 1906, inspired the journalists of this era whose actions altered the course of history (the President’s words, then, precisely describe life in America today – we are reliving the 1920s, folks, although, I think, matters are much worse, now, because of the multi-national reach of those “pulling the levers”):

“There are, in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave evils, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil [person] whether politician or business [person], every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every [person] who, on the platform, or in book, magazine, or newspaper, [or the internet] with merciless severity makes such attack, provided always that [s/]he in [her/]his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful.” [FN 7]

We ask all of you to also please consider this (something we have suggested in our outreach to some of you):

If you agree with and support our mission (which is the realization of this nation’s first Article V Convention in our history and, as a result, living to see the day that American citizens simply have the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to amend our Constitution as We the People see fit to redress our growing list of grievances and restore representative democracy in America and implement the federal reform that is required to preserve these rights for future generations of Americans), then we ask that you please consider ways that we can unite and work together with this mission being a common goal; and,

If you agree that this mission should be a common goal of all citizens in our community, we invite everyone to submit any ideas/proposals for how we might be able to support one another in some form of united effort that would enable us to share resources (people’s time and energy) for this purpose (Note: We propose that a brainstorming meeting be organized for this purpose); and,

Finally, we ask everyone to please consider volunteering and signing up for one of our volunteer video conferences to help us evaluate different conferencing applications to decide which one is best suited for our upcoming internet conference/e-town hall meeting/Community Television program (scheduled for March 24 – see our February 29th dated “Project… UPDATE” post on our Facebook site for details about this event). This is an IMMEDIATE need that we (AVC4PLOCF) must address in order for our conference/e-town hall/CTV program to be successful in beginning to educate citizens about the scope of Congress’ failure to properly “provide for… the general welfare of the United States” (including a hosted-panel discussion by economists regarding the economic state of the union – bad – and Congress’ failure to do much about it) and what We the People can and WILL do to redress these grievances with our federal government (including a hosted-panel discussion of the only realistic tool at our disposal for implementing federal reform, which is: an Article V Convention). (Note: this conference/CTV program will also include a call-in Q & A for our audience, thus, our description of this event as an “e-town hall” meeting.) Please join one of these volunteer video conferences (see our Info page on our Facebook site for our email address) and help us make this an e-town hall that just may be the beginning of actions in our county that inspire similar events in communities across the nation (our plan is to distribute taped copies of our conferences/e-town halls throughout the national network of public-access stations).

We, here at AVC4PLOCF, thank everyone for their time (and we apologize for the length of this post).

John French
Founder, Article V Convention for Peace, Liberty and Our Children’s Future
(We are on Facebook)

FOOTNOTES:
1. We Googled: “‘John Guise’ Congress lawsuit,” which resulted in only links to Bill Walker’s article, Daniel Marks’ (Occupy in Hawaii) article and other copies of these two articles – that’s about it – no news items at all.
2. According to Friends of the Article V Convention, the required number of applications from the states compelling Congress to call an Article V Convention was first reached in 1929 (http://www.article-5.org/file.php/1/Amendments/index.htm ).
3. Professor Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School, “Institutional Corruption – Opening Lecture” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-lEDiUFXUk ).
4. Bill Walker’s presentation at Professor Lawrence Lessig’s Conference on the Constitutional Convention, Harvard Law School, September, 2010 (http://foavc.org/reference/Opening%20Remarks.pdf ).
5. Daniel Marks [Hard Truth PAC, Hilo, Hawaii], “Congress Refuses To Call a Convention to Amend,” Firedoglake blog, February, 2012 (Note: We recommend that everyone read this entire blog post, which also includes John Guise’s motivation for filing this lawsuit – Mr. Guise: “It would have been a violation of my oath [Mr. Guise was a member of the U.S. Jaycees for years] not to do everything I could, legally, to attempt to right this wrong. So, on January 12th, I did the only thing that I could do that was consistent with my duty and honor as a citizen. I filed the final in a series of criminal complaints.”) (http://my.firedoglake.com/danielmarks/2012/02/18/congress-refuses-to-call-a-convention-to-amend/ ).
6. Kevin Zeese, “The American People Could Rule Better Than the Political and Economic Elites,” September, 2011 (http://october2011.org/blogs/kevin-zeese/american-people-could-rule-better-political-and-economic-elites ).
7. See: Wikipedia, Muckraker.