The Convention of States (CoS) is a rival organization of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, and seeks an Amendment Convention with the authority to propose a term limits amendment, a balanced budget amendment, and any amendment which limits the power and scope of the federal government. It was a wonderful dream, and they have raised millions of dollars, organized thousands of grass roots volunteers, and passed their Resolution in eight States. They’ve gotten the low hanging fruit, and are having difficulties moving beyond the easy pickings. CoS is a collaboration of Tea Party veteran Mark Meckler and the prominent Christian attorney, and national champion of the home schooling movement, Mike Ferris. His Home School Legal Defense Association has an outstanding record, and he is beloved by countless thousands of home schooling parents.
Ferris has left CoS, and his departure will prove to be its undoing . The imminent success of the BBA Task Force, along with the growing strength of U. S. Term Limits, makes CoS redundant and unnecessary. If the BBA passes, and term limits passes, all that’s left of CoS is essentially a call for an open Convention, which is anathema to a very large number of Republican State Legislators. These men and women will agree to an Amendment Convention only if it is strictly limited in the scope of its powers. This fundamental flaw in political strategy doomed CoS from the day it was formed.
Task Force Co-Founder Bill Fruth learned the same lesson, the hard way. He originally proposed a ten subject Amendment Convention, then scaled back to a four subject Convention before he saw political reality. Every time you add a subject matter to your bill, you increase your opposition. Co-Founder Dave Biddulph learned the same lesson, spending years promoting a three subject Convention. When Fruth and Biddulph recognized the error of their ways they teamed up in 2010, settled on a single subject, joined with Lew Uhler, and were off to the races. I came on board in 2013, followed by Dave Guldenschuh*, a refugee from CoS.
CoS had funding from major donors, and these people will soon realize it’s over. If they really believe in Article V they should switch their support to the BBA, donating either to the Task Force or Uhler’s National Tax Limitation Committee. If we had $50,000 to hire the Donatelli lobbying firm in Virginia we could save a State that looks out of reach at the moment. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
Nonetheless, regardless of the money, the coming expiration of CoS is, on balance, a positive for the Task Force. On occasion they have actively sought to undermine us, and have succeeded.
I can’t help but note that neither Ferris, Meckler, Fruth or Biddulph has ever served a day in a State Legislature. If they had, they would have understood how bills are passed, and how they are killed. If you’re passing out goodies, you can combine them all in a Christmas tree bill, but it works the opposite with substantive legislation. Term limits and a balanced budget amendment both enjoy 75% approval, 25% disapproval. But the 25% that disapprove of one, is different than the 25% that disapproves the other. Now you may be up to 40% disapproval of the two combined. It’s like, arithmetic.
All of us associated with the Task Force can feel the wind at our backs, and it’s getting stronger.
*With the departure of Mike Ferris from the Article V movement, its leading constitutional attorney is none other than Dave Guldenschuh. Ask Rob Natelson.