Dr. Edwin Vieira JIP Memo


20 May 2009

Dear Bob:

Contrary to rumors circulating in some quarters, I do not oppose in principle the idea of a new “Continental Congress” (or like effort), at which patriotic Americans could review the fundamental principles of our Constitution, catalogue violations of the Constitution by rogue public officials, and propose sound strategies for enforcing the Constitution in the future. To be credible and effective, however, any “Continental Congress” must operate according to carefully and clearly defined standards. To wit,
(1) The delegates who are selected must, first and foremost, be thoroughly knowledgeable about, and personally committed to the enforcement of, the Constitution and laws of the United States, as well as of their own States.

(2) The delegates must be selected by a thoroughly democratic process, involving the broadest practical segment of the population in each of their States and Localities.

(3) The delegates must be men and women well known and respected within their communities, with unblemished reputations for honesty, integrity, prudence, foresight, and the courage of their convictions.

(4) The delegates must be open to a full, fair, and frank discussion of all credible points of view, with the goal of creating a documentary and testimonial record of indisputable facts from which to draw legal conclusions and upon the basis of  which to propose responsible courses of political action. The delegates should be bound by no rigid prior agenda that they must follow, no preconceived conclusions to which they must agree, and no unalterable plans for future actions that they must adopt. All decisions of the “Continental Congress” as a whole must be made by open and recorded roll-call votes.

(5) The delegates should assemble a staff of recognized experts in American history constitutional law, political science, economics, and other relevant disciplines to assist them in their deliberations, as well as secretarial personnel to make and provide for the retention of complete and accurate records of the proceedings.

(6) The delegates should set as their goal the identification of solely those parts of the Constitution (including its Amendments) the immediate enforcement of which is critical to the preservation of America as a sovereign, independent, free, and prosperous republic, and then focus on precisely how such enforcement is to be accomplished in the most expeditious manner, and according to the prudential principle “first, do no harm”. When possible, a proposal that can be put into operation in one State at a time, and gradually refined and perfected on the basis of that experience, should be preferred to a proposal that requires a single, massive, and likely unsustainable nationwide effort.

(7) The delegates should entertain no proposal whatsoever for enforcement of the Constitution and laws that even arguably violates the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the laws of the United States or of the several States made in pursuance of the Constitution. Indeed, any proposal that advocates the violation of law—and particularly any proposal that advocates or otherwise involves the incitement or employment of actual violence—should constitute sufficient grounds for expulsion from the “Continental Congress” sine die of any delegate, expert, or other party in attendance who sets it forth. To implement this requirement, at the commencement of proceedings the delegates should select from amongst themselves one or more “law officers”, with recognized expertise in that field, to provide guidance on the legality of any proposal placed before the “Continental Congress”.

No doubt other useful standards could be added to this list—and because this is your project, you must make the final determination as to what may be necessary and proper. But at least it is a reasonable beginning.

Finally, as I do for all men and women of good will who labor on America’s behalf, I wish you  well in your work.

Edwin Vieira, Jr.

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