Conservative infighting over #ArticleV – The influence of the Kennedy Clan

This entry is part of 9 in the series Conservative Infighting Over Article V

Not only had liberals tried to use the fine art of swindling (by way of Professor Swindler) to get conservatives to fight amongst themselves on #ArticleV, but now they had a friend on the Supreme court and also a popular political family joining in the fray. Robert Natelson continues in his dissertation1:

Somewhat later, Chief Justice Warren, whose judicial activism was one of the targets of the Council of State Governments, mimicked Black and Swindler by with the absurd declaration that its amendment drive “could soon destroy the foundations of the Constitution.”2

When Senator Everett Dirksen (R.-Ill.) joined the fight for an amendment partially reversing the Warren Court’s reapportionment cases, his liberal colleagues pushed back hard. Senators Joseph Tydings (D.-Md) and Robert Kennedy (D.-NY) followed Black’s lead and advanced various “reasons” why Congress should disregard state legislative resolutions it did not care for.3 Senator William Proxmire (D.-Wis.) and the liberal New York Republican, Senator Jacob Javits pressed the claim that a convention would be uncontrollable.4

Kennedy’s resistance was supplemented by other opinion leaders associated with the Kennedy clan. In 1967, Kennedy speech writer Theodore Sorensen wrote a Saturday Review article in which he repeated Black’s “minority will control the process” argument. In congressional testimony the same year, Sorensen speculated that an Article V convention might “amend the Bill of Rights . . . limit free speech . . . reopen the wars between church and state . . . limit the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction or the President’s veto power or the congressional warmaking authority.”5

So we can see that the opposition to #ArticleV extended as high as the Warren Court as well as the Kennedy family, two of the most popular people in the  liberal establishment in America at the time. Robert Kennedy had followed the leads of both Black and Swindler in trying to spread disinformation about #ArticleV. In fact, a year before he died, his speech writer began to parrot the same talking point that conservatives who oppose #ArticleV use today. An #ArticleV Convention, according to conservatives who oppose it, might open the constitution to a total rewrite. That statement is a false premise for the simple reason that it has to take three-fourths of the states (which would be 38 out of the 50 current states) to ratify anything coming from the #ArticleV Convention.I think it is safe to say that one would be hard-pressed to find any combination of 38 states to support any of the above things that Sorensen had proposed. If anything, an #ArticleV convention is the safest measure that the Founders had given us for the simple reason that it takes 38 states to support anything that comes out of there. However, people do not realize that, and as such they follow and parrot the talking points that the liberal establishment had been parroting for almost 80 years.

However, liberals embody the very definition of “insanity” (that is, according to the Urban Dictionary definition, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”) when a law professor returns to the Yale Law Journal with a fresh opposition to #ArticleV. That is coming up in the next article.

1 Robert G. Natelson “The Liberal Establishment’s Disinformation Campaign Against Article V — and How It Misled Conservatives” pp 8-9 (found at
2 Caplan, p. 74.
3Caplan, pp. 75-76
4 Caplan, p. 76. Javits was liberal not just for a Republican, but (like some of his GOP colleagues at the time) liberal in an absolute sense. His voting record was regularly marked as above 80% by the left-of-center Americans for Democratic Action.
5 Caplan, p. 147. See later entries for other comments by associates and allies of the Kennedy clan.

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