Chief Justice Burger on the
The following letter written to Dame of Malta
Phyllis Schlafly, from
Chief Justice Warren Burger, should not be construed by the reader to mean
that Schlafly came willingly into the battle against the on-going action
for a Constitutional Convention application by state legislators. The effort
to seduce state legislators into passing resolutions began in the mid 1970's
after a general convention call by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller
By 1983, thirty-two of the required thirty-four states had made the call
(Missouri being the last), having been falsely assured by ALEC-financed lawyer
/ lobbyist, John Armor, that the "null and void clause" in the resolution
would protect against a run-away convention. Doug Kelly, master strategist,
entered the battle in ‘83.
Doug informed us that he could not convince Schlafly to rally her troops
(Eagle Forum members) into defense of the Constitution, so he sent an "open
letter" to many of Schlafly’s state leaders. In other words, it appears
as though Schlafly had no choice if she wanted to maintain integrity with
Although we don’t have the letter he wrote, nor were we actively
involved at that time, we worked closely with Doug Kelly from February ‘93
until late ‘95 and have no reason to believe he made up a story. Given
the Constitution was hanging by a swinging-door chad in 1983, if Eagle Forum
in fact had not been involved in such a critical action until 1983, that
alone would give credence to Doug’s assertion.
In his letter, Justice Burger mentions that he is "glad to see states
rescinding their previous resolutions...". Doug Kelley stated that Phyllis
Schlafly refused to appear at hearings in support of rescisions. An effort
was made by a group in '94 to rescind Arizona's resolution. In my ignorance,
I suggested they call on Phyllis to testify before the Hearing Committee
on the rescission. They did. She refused. The effort to rescind failed in
Arizona. Doug was furious with me; his concern was that the proponents for
a Con-Con may have been warned so they could call out their dogs in Arizona.
We'll probably never know on that one.
As further evidence... in 1995 the Conference of States hit hard and fast.
The COS was another, different attempt at a general convention via state
action. During the heat of the battle I received a call from Janine, the
Nevada state leader for Eagle Forum, requesting all the information we could
provide. Doug urged me to return her call immediately, explaining that she
was very upset that Schlafly — again — was not rallying the EF
members to defend the Constitution. Janine did involve many Eagle Forum members
and there is no doubt their involvement — along with thousands of others
— helped to defeat the COS.
By April ‘95, after the COS attempt had been brought to a screeching
halt, Schlafly did write an excellent opposition piece in the EF newsletter.
. . a day late and a dime short
as often times seems to
be the case. However, it probably served once again to maintain credibility
with the vast membership of Eagle Forum.
The following letter, from Chief Justice Burger, was supplied to us by
Supreme Court of the United States
Washington, D.C. 20543
June 22, 1983
Chief Justice Burger
I am glad to respond
to your inquiry about a proposed Article V Constitutional Convention. I have
been asked questions about this topic many times during my news conferences
and at college meetings since I became chairman of the Commission on the
Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, and I have repeatedly replied that
such a convention would be a grand waste of time.
I have also repeatedly
given my opinion that there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions
of a Constitutional Convention. The convention could make its own rules and
set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the convention to one amendment
or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the convention would
obey. After a convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the convention
if we don't like its agenda. The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed
by the confederation Congress "for the sole and express purpose."
With George Washington
as chairman, they were able to deliberate in total secrecy, with no press
coverage and no leaks. A constitutional Convention today would be a free-for-all
for special interest groups, television coverage, and press speculation.
Our 1787 Constitution
was referred to by several of its authors as a "miracle." Whatever gain might
be hoped for from a new Constitutional Convention could not be worth the
risks involved. A new convention could plunge our Nation into constitutional
confusion and confrontation at every turn, with no assurance that focus would
be on the subjects needing attention. I have discouraged the idea of a
Constitutional Convention, and I am glad to see states rescinding their previous
resolutions requesting a convention. In these bicentennial years, we should
be celebrating its long life, not challenging its very existence. Whatever
may need repair on our Constitution can be dealt with by specific amendments.
Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly
Alton, IL 62002