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A discussion on the August debate of the merits of an Article V convention

The following debate took place on August 28, 2014. Below the video is a discussion on the debate. Interesting stuff. This was written by Cary Nunnally.
In the Manassas Tea Party event, Aug 28, Virginia Del. Bob Marshall debated against a constitutional convention; Mr. Farris supported it; Ken Cuccinelli moderated. Del. Marshall has always voted against Virginia applying for convention in its various comebacks over the years; he has been in the General Assembly for over two decades. Mr. Farris, director of “Convention of States”, as well as a homeschooling advocate and chancellor of the college he founded, Patrick Henry, in Virginia, acknowledges that he and Bob have been friends for a long time. Both are conservatives. The audience was divided as to support or oppose; some didn’t know much about it and came to learn.
In that audience were Robert Broadus, Jeff Lewis and Anna Yeisley. We watched the footage of the debate together Saturday and discussed.
Who won the debate?
RB: I’d say it was a wash….I was surprised because I expected them to address more of the pros and cons but it seemed both were holding back. It was almost TOO civil. Farris seemed to have given up on saying “It’s not a constitutional convention, it’s a convention of states” and was not as adversarial as usual; Bob was witty and funny, but didn’t go after the risks of convention as much as I expected. If I had come to evaluate the debate not knowing much about the subject, looking for the most engaging speaker, I would have picked Marshall as the winner. He impressed me with his depth of knowledge, research and hard references to experts throughout history on the topics being debated. It was hard to hear him; he kept getting the bad microphone; that could have made the audience focus on the squealing and feedback rather than what he had to say. But if you came there pro-convention or anti-convention, you probably left the same way.


JL: The premise of the debate was murky; it was advertised one way and announced another, but we knew Marshall was arguing against and Farris for. I’ve been studying Article V convention trends for a long time. Because of the points Bob made, I’d say he won, but I don’t think many were swayed in either direction. Bob Marshall identified the correct problem and the correct solution, at least part of it: we the people must pay more attention and engage in our civic duty in order to restore constitutional governance. Triggering an Article V convention doesn’t address the root problem. Changing the Constitution doesn’t address legislators who ignore their oath of office, or the people’s refusal to hold them accountable. What amendment could they add that would address (on paper) our intent? Would it say “and we mean it this time?”
AY: In his opening statement, Mr. Farris spoke about the US being hundreds of trillions of dollars in debt, but never addressed how an amendment process would reform the monetary system that created that debt. Farris made points for expounding on amending the Constitution to clarify the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause; but would those amendments correct other blatant constitutional violations like debt-based currency, a standing army and a dumbed down and ignorant populace?  As far as ‘who won,’ Del. Marshall was well prepared and had the stronger arguments AGAINST constitutional convention.
You are all opposed to the Article V convention, yet you have different ideas about how to structure a successful solution. How would you have argued?
RB: Conservative states should meet in their sovereign capacities, draw up whatever amendments they want (or an entirely new Constitution) and submit them to Congress for approval, rather than going into convention with progressive States where they will have to compromise and give up half of what they want for Mark Levin’s lackluster amendments that in many ways expand the authority of the national government and don’t even address the social issues.
JL: Our Constitution doesn’t have a structural problem. If people won’t obey the Ten Commandments, should we rewrite them? I agree, Anna, folks without a grasp or even a basic understanding of the Constitution (and the Declaration, Articles of Confederation, Bill of Rights) are the reason we have these problems, yet Farris uses a line that his opponent doesn’t trust the people/Constitution. A lawyer told me if the law is on your side, argue the law. If the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If you can’t argue the law or the facts, attack your opponent. That is what the COS does at almost every presentation they do (if there is any opposition allowed). They shout down the questioners and don’t answer their questions, and try to keep opposition away from their presentations. Why? If their presentation is so good, why wouldn’t they want to change the minds of those who oppose?
People don’t like this kind of issue: it’s complicated if you’re hearing about it for the first (or in many cases, umpteenth) time, so they look for a leader to guide them. Every decision people make is based on seeking pleasure/avoiding pain. People find all this decision-making painful, so they want someone they trust to tell them what to do. The Constitution is at least a moral document, even if some amendments would improve it (like repealing 16 and 17), but do we have a moral group of legislators in Congress or the states? Are we a moral people? Until we are, we better stick to the document we have. Throw out the legislators who won’t obey their oath, wake up the people, make sure we follow what is going on, even if it’s boring and we hate doing it. We never should have stopped paying attention. Bob was right about that, “eternal vigilance” is the required action in defense of liberty.
AY: No Article V convention can hope to correct federal usurpation without restoring the institutions ordained by the Constitution. We need to ENFORCE and RESTORE the Constitution, not change it.  You want my solution?  Call a NON CONGRESSIONAL convention to repeal unlawful acts, a true convention of states focused on resurrecting constitutional sound currency, constitutional homeland security, liberty-oriented education and a functional jury system.
Any other comments about the debate?
JL: It doesn’t seem to bother COS supporters that their sources and claims are unsupported by law or precedent. There’s never been an Article V “Convention for proposing Amendments.” They know very few will look it up. The same people who won’t read an online article by Publius Huldah, because it is too busy (with links to source documents) are the people who blindly follow COS because they are desperate for a miracle cure for what has been happening all these decades. They don’t check the sources. They remind me of the guy who wrecks his health year after year then looks for a pill or operation to correct it. There is no miracle cure. Painful as it is, we have to do some of the heavy lifting. People don’t want to hear that.
AY: Farris spent half his opening statement establishing his ‘expertise’ in constitutional legal matters, but there is no guarantee that Congress, nor the state legislature will choose him as a delegate!  I think his goal has become the convention itself, and that scares me. If Farris is not speaking of restoring the very institutions necessary to a free state, this amendment process is hardly capable of restructuring American government without the resurrection of constitional mandates like sound money, a body of people trained to arms, and education that includes teaching the concept of God-endowed inherent rights.
This is one of those things that people say will never happen because it’s too drastic. Now supporters of an Article V convention are saying desperate times call for desperate measures, even if there is risk. Any thoughts?
RB: Robert Yates of New York foreshadowed the usurpation of State sovereignty in 1787 by indicating that the Constitution was “complete” (as in “total,”) reaching to even the most minute and local issues that affect our lives.  This betrayed the principles of 1776, and from Wickard v. Filburn to Obamacare we can see he was right.  Until we break free of this stranglehold, our States and hence their People will never be free—an Article V Convention is not the path to restoring State sovereignty.
JL:  If someone brought trays full of glasses of water into a room for a hundred thirsty people, but warned that one of those glasses contained a colorless, odorless poison, who would take a glass? Triggering an Article V Convention to rein in out of control government is the wrong solution to the wrong problem. It’s playing Russian Roulette with the protections of our God-given Rights the Constitution currently prescribes.
AY:  I’m with Sheriff Richard Mack: if he and I could choose the delegates, then I’d know we’d have a good constitutional convention. With Congress or even the states choosing the convention delegates, we cannot determine the outcome.  We have a lot to fear in opening the Constitution for changes. There are far more powerful and more wealthy people who HATE the Constitution; than people that understand it, love it and will defend it!  An Article V convention could put our Constitution in the hands of those dedicated to destroying it.
Robert Broadus’ speech on Anti-Federalist Philosophy is an eye-opener. No one who attends walks away without having learned something. Broadus ran for Congress in Maryland’s 4th District. You can reach him at [email protected]
Jeff Lewis is co-founder and national director of Patriot Coalition. Visit their Article V resource site for more information, videos, articles and lists at Contact Jeff at: [email protected]
Anna Yeisley hosts INDEPENDENT THINKER, an online radio broadcast, focused on teaching the fundamental principles of free government. INDEPENDENT THINKER interviews many prominent constitutionalists. Email Anna at [email protected]us or listen to archived shows at

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

2 Responses to “A discussion on the August debate of the merits of an Article V convention”

  1. Bill Walker says:

    I find the reaction to this so-called debate very interesting. Given the reaction it is clear the true facts about a convention were not presented. I suggest all go to the website and read the 759 applications from 49 states and realize a convention is mandated by the Constitution. Thus to oppose it is to oppose the Constitution. As to obeying new amendments (and the convention can only propose amendments, not implement nor write a new constitution) one of the proposals by the states is initiative, referendum and recall of federal officials. I suggest this amendment alone is sufficient to show amendments can be fashioned to keep the government in line.

    Second, I intend once I have finished this comment to challenge Mr. Bob Marshall to a real debate about the convention. Unlike Mr. Farris I can promise you my evidence is conclusive, factual and backed by public record. It will show Mr. Marshall is entirely incorrect in his position. However I would hold my breath waiting for Mr. Marshall to debate again. My rep about an AVC is well known and I predict he will run from me as Mr. Farris and many other have already done.

    I will not bother to correct the misstatements of those above. The correct facts can be found on the site and the public record entirely refutes these false, unsupported claims.

  2. Bill Walker says:

    Just for reference. Here is the message I left for Mr. Marshall on his site. As I said I do not expect he will reply and/or accept.

    Dear Mr. Marshall,

    I read with interest about your recent “debate” with Mr. Farris regarding an Article V Convention. From all accounts it was a pillow fight. Debates should not be so characterized. I have been in the Article V movement for over 20 years. I was the first person to file federal lawsuits regarding the matter and the first person to gather the 759 applications from 49 states into a single public record viewable at my website

    Frankly I believe your position is completely wrong. I also believe that a true debate will demonstrate this fact irrefutably. I therefore challenge you to an Internet debate to be carried via Skype or on an Internet program for downloading. I suggest this method as I live on the west coast and the cost of a physical debate would be prohibitive. Beyond which while your local debate stayed mostly local, an Internet debate covers the nation.

    I have provided you my contact information in this form and look forward to your response and the establishment of a time/date for our debate. Thank you for your time.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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