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A major figure today in
the Article V Convention movement, Professor Robert G. Natelson first
entered the AVC scene in 2010 with the publication of a policy report (shown below) at
the Goldwater Institute located in Phoenix, Arizona. In that report
he advocated the legal theory that the principles of fiduciary law
(sometimes referred to as master/slave or employer/employee law) rather
than constitutional law be applied to an Article V Convention. This
theory of law has served as the basis for the creation of the political
groups Convention of States and Compact for America. As of January, 2017 Professor
Natelson, who retired from the University of Montana, is currently a
Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence for the Independence
Institute based in Denver, Colorado.
The main theme of
theory is the American people have no place in an Article V Convention.
people are not allowed to vote for the delegates who attend the
convention nor are they allowed any public debate regarding the
convention agenda. Rather, Natelson advocates total control of the
convention process by a few select members of the various state
legislatures. Natelson also believes the agenda of a convention should
be pre-determined by the legislatures. He believes the legislatures
should be free to "instruct" the delegates to a convention on all
aspects of the convention from debate and ultimately to vote. Natelson
refers to these unelected delegates as "commissioners" and
believes they totally are controlled by the state legislatures with no
input from the people whatsoever. This theory of convention is known as
a "closed" convention (See: Page 11 A, Page 11 D).
Natelson bases his theory on the practices of conventions that were held in America prior
to the colonies declaring their independence when the colonies were
still under British rule and law. Under that law the King established
convention agenda. The King had the power to arrest anyone who failed
to follow any "instructions" he made in regards to the convention. In
the present time several states have passed laws calling for felony
arrest of delegates should they fail to follow "instructions" from a
few select members of the state legislatures. Natelson has never publicly repudiated these state laws.
While Natelson denies he ever advocated such policy, nevertheless the
fact remains that felony arrest of delegates who refuse to obey the
"instructions" of state legislators stems from the fact that during the
time period Natelson bases his theory, colonial America, it was the
practice of the British government to arrest anyone who disobeyed the
King's orders including those regarding a convention. All conventions
Natelson uses as the basis of his legal theory were held under these
terms: strict control of convention agenda by order of the King; threat
of arrest for failure to obey the "instructions" of the King. American
independence in 1783 replaced the sovereign tyranny of the King with
the popular sovereignty of the people meaning no act of government
could occur with consent of the governed. Thus the law Mr. Natelson
bases his theory on law that no longer exists in America but which Mr.
Natelson asserts still has legal affect.
FOAVC believes the question of whether the people or the state
legislatures should control of the convention is vital. In short,
the question is shall we operate under the law of the Constitution, or
return to the law of the King which the American people replaced in 1783?
Ironically, it is the American people who will decide whether or not changes to their
Constitution will be decided by themselves acting in their
traditional roles of election and participation or by a select few legislators who will
decide all matters without input from the people. It
boils down to a choice between a democratic and autocratic form of government.
In order to best understand the "fiduciary" theory of Robert Natelson
and the objections to it raised by FOAVC co-founder Bill Walker, FOAVC
presents the two reports side by side for review. The reports can
be read by clicking on the appropriate image below:
Following his Goldwater Institute report, Natelson wrote
the Article V Convention policy for ALEC (The American Legislative
Exchange Council). The latest version of the ALEC report can be read by
clicking the title page image below. Beside the title page is a summary
sheet from the report showing Natelson's advocacy of unelected
"commissioners" for an Article V Convention.
FOAVC has published several articles (shown below) about Robert
Natelson, his "fiduciary" theory and ALEC expressing concern about
legal theory and discussing errors discovered about the theory.
FOAVC has three major concerns about Natelson's theory:
- It strips the people of their right to vote and thus have any say in what has been up to now has been THEIR Constitution.
- His theory places control of the amendment process
in the hands of a few select state politicians who may be subject to special interests.
- The theory has caused the creation of state laws which can obliterate our democratic form of government.
For these reasons
FOAVC is presenting Robert Natelson's legal theory so that the American
people may judge for themselves whether or not this is the form of
government they desire.
Over time Natelson has presented contradictory statements
about his theory. For example, Natelson recently stated in one
publication a convention is federal in nature (thus controlled by
federal laws, court rulings and so forth) while simultaneously writing
in another publication a convention is state in nature (meaning it is
controlled by state law and is not subject to federal law). Both
statements cannot be true. Either, as the federal courts have ruled, a
convention is federal in nature, or it is state in nature as Robert Natelson asserts.
FOAVC believes the public should carefully weigh the merits of a legal
theory which purports to be the basis for regulation of the amendment
process, particularly where the legal theory's central theme is the
exclusion of the American people from that process, yet is not even
consistently supported by its original author. The articles below are
printed in publication order:
The ALEC Article V Convention Report, The CATO Proposal--Examining The Errors
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people
to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,
a decent respect to the opinions of mankind demands such dissolution be
based on accurate information least mankind come to the conclusion the
people are idiots. More...
People v Natelson: The FEC
Regulation Vote Signals Fed Decision on Rogue AVC Fiduciary Theory
A decision by the Federal
Elections Commission (FEC) on a petition to
change the regulatory definition of elected federal office to include
delegates to an Article V Convention has become the battleground to
determine whether an Article V Convention will be an open, freely
elected convention or is hijacked by well financed special interests
bent on making a convention nothing more than an orchestrated showpiece
for their own political agenda. The crux of this argument is the Robert
Natelson (master/slave) theory. More...
Natelson Lays AVC Rules Egg
In yet another example of academic narcissism Robert G. Natelson, "foremost scholar" in the Article V movement released a draft version
of proposed operational "rules" for an Article V Convention in the last
of July. Per his usual custom Natelson's primary source of reference
for his "rules" himself who he quoted extensively. More...
Correcting Robert Natelson Yet Again
Recent events cause me to write yet another article correct the factual
errors of Robert Natelson, so called "Article V scholar." If Robert
Natelson was, in fact, a scholar instead of a factual charlatan my life
would be much simpler. Robert Natelson is consistently factually inaccurate. He ignores relevant facts, twists them to suit his own purpose or misstates them. More...
Which Way Now, Bob?
One thing that amazes me in the Article V movement is
how Robert Natelson can, without shame, shed his position on an issue
like a snake shedding his skin and how people let him get away with it
without calling him on it. I'm not one of them; though in this case I'm
happy to endorse his new coat. More...
Robert Natelson v Compact for America
(A Political Lesson in How to Beat Your Enemy by Destroying Yourself)
Robert Natelson v Compact for America
(A Political Lesson in How to Beat Your Enemy by Destroying Yourself) Round Two
Having been distracted with personal issues which still plague me but
finding at last some time to begin again to comment on events regarding
the Article V movement, I'd like to discuss the continuing sage of
Robert Natelson v Compact for America (CFA), round two. According to
Google on April 3, 2016 Robert Natelson released a report blasting Compact for America as unconstitutional. More...
Robert Natelson's Latest ALEC Report; a Study in Contradiction
Page Last Updated: 9-APRIL 2017