The Framers of the U.S. Constitution believed citizens should have an independent means to reclaim authority from the federal government in the event it got too big or oppressive. Under Article V, citizens can petition their state legislators to call for a Convention of the States as a first step to restore constitutional balance. While the Birch Society claims to be the most authoritative defender of the Constitution, it attempts to convince legislators that the Framers made a mistake when they included Article V. As a result, the Birch Society is the single largest impediment to the restoration of citizens’ rights under the Constitution.
To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last. But eat you he will. —Ronald Reagan
1. Birch Society members are anti-Constitution.
- They embrace certain Articles but reject others (such as Article V).
- They put their opinions about the Constitution above those of the Framers.
- They prefer to “interpret” the Constitution, believe their leaders alone know the Framers’ intentions, and work to impose their personal views on all Americans.
2. Birch followers attack strict constitutionalists, who place importance on the plain-text meaning of the Constitution rather than on ever-evolving court interpretations of the text.
- They advocate a “Living-Constitution” that allows the Supreme Court to create laws.
- They believe the rule of law begins with Congress rather than the Constitution.
- They encourage Americans to cherry-pick Constitutional provisions to support and reject.
3. The Birch Society strongly supported an earlier Article V movement.
- JBS founder Robert Welch advocated use of an Article V Convention in 1963 to adopt the “Liberty Amendment,” a constitutional amendment that would have repealed graduated income taxes.
- He sent letters to JBS members that called on them “to do all they can to help persuade the Alabama Senate to pass the resolution in favor of the Liberty Amendment.”
- JBS Chairman Larry McDonald urged states to call for an Article V Convention in 1975 (as a member of Congress) and 1983 (the year he was named Chairman). Later, he claimed he would never support such a movement, and even claimed he never has. See his statement HERE.
- JBS published an article in March 2015 to argue it never supported a constitutional convention—but the following statement in the article makes the exact opposite case: “The JBS did endorse the Liberty Amendment and in our official member publication, ‘The John Birch Society Bulletin,’ urged our members to work for its adoption back in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the means by which this amendment was promoted was to have states call for a constitutional convention” (our emphasis added). See the odd statement HERE.
- JBS claims in the statement that it should be forgiven for supporting the Liberty Amendment because, “Neither Mr. Welch nor Congressman Larry McDonald (who became Chairman of the Board of JBS in 1983) wanted to embarrass Willis Stone and his committee with a public disagreement, since we were friends and wanted nothing to prevent us from working together in the future. Ibid.
- JBS also stated, “From 1972 to 1978 we segued into infrequently asking our members to support bills originating in the Congress calling for the Liberty Amendment, but never outside of Congress, or through a convention.” Ibid.
4. The Birch Society aligns with leftist funders and organizations to direct its campaigns against the Article V movement.
- It is collaborating with members of the Economic Policy Institute, which is led by Democratic Socialists of America member Larry Mishel.
- It is relying on funding connections with George Soros, and the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations.
- It has adopted disinformation developed by leftist organizations to protect the status quo federal government. Read new evidence of how JBS and the Left are misleading conservatives HERE.
5. Birch Society members are using leftist tactics to smear conservatives.
- JBS has adopted leftist tactics to make false claims, interrupt public forums, and claim discrimination against it by pro-constitutionalists who won’t engage its members.
- Shawn Meehan is sending emails to conservatives that ask “Can you shed any light on…situations that help reveal this man’s (COS leader Mark Meckler) less-than-stellar record?… I’ve been told by a few folks that if we could prove to them Meckler’s heavy hand and consistent bad judgement (sic), they’d consider changing their position supporting COS” (when criticized by fellow conservatives online, he wrote “I seem to recall something about not talking behind the backs of others being a grade school lesson.”).
- JBS member Shawn Meehan, is circulating a video that he claims catches Convention of States proponents “telling a big fib” and “lying” to a legislator in Nevada. He then claims they committed a crime (in fact, the video proves their innocence). See the video HERE.
6. Birch Society leaders preach the perils of a “runaway” convention.
- They fabricate methods by which a Convention of the States might adopt radical changes to the Constitution, limit the influence of smaller states, or defy the will of Americans.
- They provide false information to legislators that implies the Framers exceeded their authority at the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
- They selectively quote from former activist Supreme Court Justices who opposed the prospect of an Article V Convention. For example, they claim former Supreme Court Chief Justice opposed a constitutional convention because it could harm the Constitution—not true. Read his actual comments HERE.
7. A “runaway” convention is impossible.
- An Article V Convention can only be convened if two-thirds of states pass the same resolution—which provides the first backstop against any “runaway” amendments.
- Any amendment proposed by a convention can be defeated by just 13 states—which provides the second backstop against any “runaway” amendments.
- Any change to the Constitution must be ratified by three-fourths (38) of the states—which provides a third backstop against any “runaway” amendments.
8. Birch Society claims against the Convention of States movement follows a pattern.
- To build opposition to President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, it claimed he was a “conscious, dedicated agent of the communist conspiracy” (The New Ledger, Oct. 28, 2010).
- To build opposition to civil rights legislation in the 1960s, it claimed the movement was intended to create a “Soviet Negro Republic” (Intelligence Report, Spring 2013).
- To build opposition to Ronald Reagan in 1980, JBS president John McManus characterized Ronald Reagan “as a ‘lackey’ of Communist conspirators” (AP News).
- To build opposition to a Convention of States in 2015, JBS president John McManus is instructing his supporters to claim it is a leftist plot (a “ConCon”) to allow a “runaway” convention.
9. The most important Conservative leaders of our generation placed no credibility in JBS.
- William F. Buckley wrote in 1965, “How can the John Birch Society be an effective political instrument while it is led by a man whose views on current affairs are, at so many critical points . . . so far removed from common sense?” and wrote in 2008, “The fallacy (of JBS) is the assumption that you can infer subjective intention from objective consequence…” (just as it assumes the passage of Article V resolutions today infers legislators have been misled).
- Barry Goldwater labeled Bircher views “irresponsible” (New York Times interview, Oct. 15, 1965), and wrote about JBS, “We cannot allow the emblem of irresponsibility to attach to the conservative banner” (National Review, 1965).
- Ronald Reagan stated in 1966, “In my opinion those persons who are members of the John Birch Society have a decision to make concerning the reckless and imprudent statements of their leader,” and that his approach would be to “persuade them to accept my philosophy, not me accepting theirs.” (Reagan supported an Article V Convention in 1988. See this article HERE.)
- George Will wrote in 2005, “Responsible conservatives, especially William F. Buckley and his National Review, repelled the (Birchers), driving them into the dark cave where, today, they ferociously guard the secret of their size from a nation no longer curious about it.” (Aug. 24, 2005)
- Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee, and Dr. Tom Coburn strongly support the Convention of States movement—will the Birch Society now claim they are part of an anti-American conspiracy?
- In 2015, Brown opposed Colorado legislation that would increase the firearms magazine limit from 15 rounds to 30 rounds. His opposition drew criticism from fellow gun rights activists. (SOURCE) Luc Hatlestad of 5280 magazine wrote that conservatives were questioning whether Brown “is more committed to the money his activism earns him than the alleged principles behind his supposedly high-minded crusade.” (SOURCE)
10. The Birch Society is no different today, according to its CEO, Arthur Thompson.
- “We’ve always influenced the conservative movement. We just don’t bang the drum and wave the flag about everything we do’’ (interview with Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, Spring 2013 edition).
- “We’ve never been vast numbers. You don’t need to be vast numbers. You just need to be the dedicated few, who are focused on doing the same thing, at the same time, with the same intellectual arguments to the right people.” (Ibid.)
- “We’re up against a conspiracy. People say, ‘You sound like a conspiracy theorist.’ I say, ‘No, no, no. I’m a conspiracy fact-ist.’” (Ibid.)
11. Other conservative groups are collaborating with the Birch Society solely to reach their fundraising goals.
- After an Article V debate in Colorado, the deputy chief of staff for Colorado Gov. Bill Owens told The Denver Magazine, “All (the leader of National Association of Gun Rights) wanted to do was create controversy. He makes his money when there’s turmoil, real or perceived, because that’s what gets his members to write him checks.”
12. NAGR deserves scrutiny.
- The National Rifle Association does not support the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR) or allow the group to affiliate with its activities. In fact, NRA Chief Legal Counsel Charles J. Cooper strongly supports the Convention of States project and serves on its legal advisory committee.
- NAGR leader Dudley Brown was sued for allegedly using fraudulent mail campaigns to mislead potential donors, and was found to have failed to file income taxes for years. In 2011, Brown falsely claimed in letters that, “It’s illegal for me to tell you which candidates the NAGR PAC supports… The good news is, I’ve found a loophole…, and frankly it’s pretty easy… All you need to do is chip in at least $5 (or more)…”
- The Second Amendment Foundation wrote in 2014, “It is time to call Dudley what he is, a political bomb-throwing bully whose stock in trade is to incite distrust and discontent within the ranks of the gun rights movement to enhance his own fund-raising efforts and power base.”
13. These individuals who lobby against Article V resolutions attempt to embellish their credentials and hide their affiliations.
- Shawn Meehan, who lobbies in Nevada, claims he is not a JBS member but admitted when confronted that “I am in fact a member of ‘Stop the Constitutional Convention’ a Facebook open group started by a JBS member…”
- NAGR leader Dudley Brown, who also runs a Colorado fundraising group, falsely claims to hold a “B.A. from Colorado State University” though he did not graduate from any college.
- Publius Huldah, who blogs and speaks against Article V does not disclose her real name, claims to have a law degree, and describes herself on her blog as a “lawyer, philosopher & logician.” Other bios claim she is a “retired litigation attorney,” and that she obtained a degree where she “specialized” in “theories of knowledge.” No records appear to exist of her graduation from any school or license to practice law.
- NAGR leader Dudley Brown posted on the Birch Society Facebook page “My plan is to use everything from U.S. mail and email, to Internet, radio and even TV ads if necessary to ensure this scheme is stopped,” and then pleads for money, “please consider chipping in $10 or $20 to help…”