Let’s Broaden Our Circle – Worst Speech at the Value Voters Summit of 2013


As the Tony Perkins annual event winds down, most of the buzz surrounds Ted Cruz.  But Mark Levin (a.k.a. “The Great One”) gave the faithful a stirring cry on how best to “take our country back”.  Mr. Perkins introduced the Great One as “one of the top constitutional lawyers in America today”, and that his new book “lays out a path to restore America’s founding principles”.[foot] http://therightscoop.com/watch-mark-levin-at-the-values-voter-summit-2013/[/foot]

In a (very small) nutshell, Levin[foot]Quick note:this idea is not original to him[/foot] would use Article V of the U.S. Constitution to call two-thirds of the state legislatures together to propose new amendments to our founding document. Levin outlines his ideal amendments in his book, which range from a balanced budget to the repeal of the 17th amendment to a nationwide mandatory voter ID law. The procedural maneuverings would be too tedious to describe here; suffice it to say that even serious conservative constitutional scholars disagree over some of the details.[foot]A dizzying thesis on this conservative strategy can be found here: http://www.compactforamerica.org/legal-brief-the-compact-for-americas-laser-focused-article-v-convention-is-clearly-constitutional/ A conservative retort and an alternate strategy may be found here: http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/ Google “political question” for a good read on how the courts might be involved in this process.[/foot] Since this route has never been successfully navigated before, we can be certain there would be some “glitches” along the way.

So after listening to Levin, I did a little research. I started by reading Article V. Guess what? Article V requires something a little extra after two-thirds of the state legislatures call for the amendments — something Levin neglected to inform his listeners in this speech he made alongside Perkins. Check out this old bit of parchment:

“…when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof…”


Here’s the deal. Before any amendment can be ratified, it must be agreed to by 3/4 of the states. The 2/3 number is what is necessary to begin the process.

Levin never mentioned “three-fourths” of anything in his speech. He emphasized “two-thirds.” So, okay, let’s do some math. And remember, you have to round up, because there can’t be a half a state legislature (Nebraska notwithstanding):

50 x (2/3) = 34

50 x (3/4) = 38

Comparing these numbers to Statescape[foot]http://www.statescape.com/resources/partysplits/partysplits.aspx>Source[/foot], we can count up the number of state legislatures each party controls:

Republican – 26

Democratic – 18

Split/Other – 6

Total – 50

The split states are Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska (unicameral, non-partisan chamber), New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia (duly noting Virginia’s senate is deadlocked at 20-20 with a Republican lieutenant governor). Adding all the split states to the Republican’s tally (for fun, let’s include New York and New Hampshire) yields 32 chambers. That’s 2 short of the amount required to actually get the ball rolling, and 6 shy of the number needed to enact the amendments. Republicans are making a heroic attempt to flip the Colorado Senate through off-year recalls, but even that is fool’s gold – the lower chamber is solidly Democratic. No other state appears even remotely close to being competitive for Republicans to flip (Nevada and Oregon look like the most likely candidates, but that would probably take a “wave” year election). Just as many states look like potential flips from R to D (most notably Pennsylvania and Michigan, but let’s include Arkansas for good measure. Hey, we gave up New York, right?). Ultimately, it only takes 13 state legislatures saying “no thanks” to this scheme to upend the whole applecart. The numbers simply are not there — wave election or no.

The reason Mr. Levin does not mention the 3/4 ratification requirements is obvious.[foot]Indeed, in my brief travels over the interweb I have found few conservative commentators who even mentioned the ¾ ratification requirement.  When I have found it mentioned, it is usually given a backseat status.  That’s dishonest, and it’s bad business politically.  Selling a strategy doomed to failure might gin up some short-term enthusiasm (read: cash), but in the long run the base will become depressed and fatigued with the results.  The opposition party will see an opportunity to score a solid and decisive win.  How can Republicans ever claim to be the “Pro-Constitution” party if they try this and can’t succeed?[/foot] I’d love to know how deeply his book touches on this, but I really don’t have time to scan over a few hundred pages of crap. The only “great” thing about this conservative strategy is that it sells books and generates advertisement revenue. This false prophet has sold a pipe dream to his flock, and it doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to see through the rubbish of this supposed “Great One”.


  1. I don’t think you really understand how Article V ratification works. The 3/4 rule is laid out in the Constitution. The supermajority rule isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. It’s kind of embarrassing to have to say this, because it’s so very obvious, but the point is that the high supermajority threshold that Article V requires is a safeguard: it is a way to require a widespread social consensus as a necessary condition for a constitutional amendment. People who have actually read Article V and thought about it for more than 90 seconds are well aware of this stuff.

    Your comments about how “the math doesn’t work” are expletives, not analysis. The math works just fine, at least for those people who have a minimal understanding of the publicly expressed intent of the Founders. If the country wants an Equal Rights Amendment or a Balanced Budget Amendment, Article V is a great way to get us there.

    • And I don’t think you actually read Dave’s post, Dan. He never suggested that the 3/4 requirement (a) wasn’t in the constitution or (b) was a “bug”. The entire point of the post, which you seem to have ignored in your haste to comment, was that Levin stressed that it would only take 2/3 of the legislatures, without mentioning the 3/4 ratification requirement.

      Maybe next time, rather than misinterpreting a post, you should just stick to “responding” via strawman arguments and logical fallacies on your own blog (and the occasional inane defamation lawsuit).

      Or, alternatively, you could actually read the post and digest the point of it before you comment.

  2. That’s hilarious, Matt. You (or Dave) rewrote your post so that my comment would no longer apply, and now you are blaming me for your revisionism.

    In fact, what I dealt with was your blog’s claim about how “the math doesn’t work.” Again, the math works just fine. You (or Dave) decided to edit your post so as to eliminate your mistake which I highlighted as well as your incriminating quote, and then you decided to criticize me for missing the “entire point of your post.” As far as I am concerned, if you’re willing to rewrite your post so as to eliminate some of the obvious problems with it, then my work is done here.

    In a perverse way, I am impressed that you threw in no less than 6 groundless attacks on me in your “response.” I’ll give you a few points for aggressiveness, Matt, but you lose many more on accuracy and integrity.

    • That’s a complete lie. The post hasn’t been edited one bit since I cleaned up the formatting yesterday at 10am. No one re-wrote anything.

      I mean, I get it: you probably read the post again after my comment, decided that there was simply no way that you could have been so off base when you commented at 11pm, and determined that someone changed the post. Unfortunately, you’re wrong about the re-write; as anyone else who read the post yesterday can attest, it hasn’t changed.

    • Clearly, Dan, this is part of some vast liberal conspiracy to make you look foolish. Well, more so than normal, at least. Matt is acting exactly like Obama during Benghazi. IMPEACH MATT CAMPBELL! HE’S TAKING AWAY YOUR FREEDOM!

  3. Matt, et al.:

    You’re right, I made a mistake.

    When I looked again at your post, I realized that the quote I had previously relied on from your site was absent from the post in question. I assumed that you had gone back and edited your post to eliminate that quote, because I couldn’t figure out where it had gone. I assumed the worst, and that is my mistake, which I apologize for.

    I knew perfectly well that I didn’t imagine that quote, though, so I looked more carefully for it. What I realized, eventually, was that I had quoted from the summary paragraph — on your main page — that links to the piece in question. Most people understand summary paragraphs on the Internet as being directly related to “the entire point of the post” they link to. Apparently, you don’t.

    Your summary paragraph reads, in full:

    “Before you go believing Mark Levin and talking about an Article V convention, there’s something you should know: the math doesn’t work. Like, not even a little bit. That might not matter to the guy selling books, but it might matter to the people who want to know whether he makes any sense. (He doesn’t.)”

    I think what this demonstrates is that you’ve made a mistake as well, and one that is substantively related to the discussion. I think you make a mistake where you accuse me of “misinterpreting” the “entire point of the post.” To repeat: you are apparently under the impression that I shouldn’t have relied on your summary paragraph which you placed on the very front page of your blog.

    Despite what you claim on your front page, the math works just fine. It works perfectly — for the purpose for which it was intended. (The only way anybody could think the math doesn’t work is if they misunderstand what the Amendment V process is supposed to do.) Now, if you really want to argue that your summary paragraph on your front oage is completely unrelated to “the entire point of the post”, feel free. I would think that such an argument would constitute an embarrassing admission that you can’t support the claims you made – and that this admission makes you for some reason feel required to respond with (as I noted before) six irrelevant and groundless insults – but that’s just me. To suggest that taking issue what your own summary says, and to suggest that criticizing what your summary says demonstrates that I have missed the “entire point of the post,” is an argument that I think most people would find extremely weird.

    And now I am going to use my crystal ball and make a prediction: I get the sense that you’ll argue that it is a terrible, unjustifiable inference for anyone ever to infer that what you write on your front page about a post has any relation to the “entire point of the post.” By all means, you have a ball with that argument.

    Maybe eventually somebody will take responsibility for what the front page of the Blue Hog Report actually says. Indeed, a reasonable person might concede that a summary paragraph would typically have a direct relation to “the entire point of the post” that it links to. But based on your past performance, I am less than confident that such a concession will ever occur.

    • You don’t seem to understand how context works, so let’s simplify.

      The point of Dave’s post: Mark Levin’s speech ignored the 3/4 requirement, meaning that what Levin proposed was not possible because there was no way he could get 3/4 of the states for the amendments he was discussing.

      My summary paragraph references Article V in the context of Mark Levin’s statements (“Before you go believing Mark Levin and talking about an Article V convention….”). Then I point out that the math, in that context, does not work. Which it doesn’t.

      So, when you say, “Despite what you claim on your front page, the math works just fine. It works perfectly — for the purpose for which it was intended,” that has nothing to do with Dave’s point. Nor does it respond to the summary paragraph, it has nothing to do with Mark Levin’s speech, which was the entire point of the post and the context of the summary. No one was talking about Article V in the abstract, nor has anyone suggested that the 3/4 requirement doesn’t “work” generally.

      Perhaps if you would stop assuming you know better than everyone else and actually take the time to read more than “Article V…math doesn’t work,” you could avoid hurrying off to make non-responsive comments. That would prevent you from looking foolish (at least in this instance) and would save the rest of us from having to read your logorrheic rambling.

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