Skip to main content

tv   QA Gregory Watson  CSPAN  July 15, 2018 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT

8:00 pm
david lymington fills in for theresa may during question time in the house of commons. then, a joint news conference with president trump and prime minister may, followed by the president's visit with queen elizabeth. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] "q&a," the man responsible for getting the 27th amendment to the u.s. constitution ratified. impact has it had in your life that you are responsible for an amendment to the constitution? gregory: i have been able to make a dent in the world. and how many people can really make that claim? i think i have demonstrated
8:01 pm
that, if one person will be very energetic,and very here she can actually -- he or she can actually accomplish something in the world of government of any significance. brian:? what is that amendment? gregory -- brian: what is that amendment? gregory: is the 27th amendment. when i it by accident was writing a paper for a course that i was taking at the university of texas at austin in the spring of 1982. i was interested in the equal rights amendment. i remembered there was a lot of 1970'sersy back in the and 1980's about the equal rights amendment. much of that controversy was procedural in nature. congress, in the fall of 1978,
8:02 pm
had granted to the equal rights amendment a much disputed extension upon its previously agreed-upon deadline. the original deadline given to the states was you must ratify e.r.a. by march 20 219 -- by march 22, 1979. as that began to loom large, panic began to set in. equal rights amendment supporters pleaded with congress to give them more time. congress responded by extending 1982.adline to june 30, nothing like that had ever happened before. it was without precedent. paperas going to write my for the university about that issue. congress have the power to grant an extension on a ratification deadline? it was during my research during
8:03 pm
-- into that question that, by accident, i stumbled upon the amendments that were never ratified that congress had sent to the states. i will never forget it. i was in the library, downtown austin, texas. i came across a book that had an entire chapter devoted to passednts that had congress but not enough state legislatures had approved. this one jumped right out at me. it said no law varying the compensation for the services of the senators and representatives shall take effect until an election of representatives shall have intervened. and i can remember standing in the aisle, holding that book in my hand, and it was as if lightning had struck. i could feel the pulsating
8:04 pm
electricity of it all. and i thought, you know what? instead of writing about the equal rights amendment and the disputed extension and its ratification deadline, why don't i instead write about this amendment that says, when members of congress want to adjust their salaries, they have to wait until next election. i had already discovered the 1939 u.s. supreme court decision in the case of coleman versus miller. pointlready knew at that that an amendment that has no deadline et al. -- deadline at all can still be ratified. and then it is up to congress to arbitrate the question of whether to much time has intervened between when they first passed it and when the most recent state legislature approved it. i already knew it was ratify able.
8:05 pm
so i -- ratifiable. so i switched the name of the paper. back then, we had those ibm selective typewriters. i had the different balls you can change the typeface. and i would change the italic in the old english. i put a lot of love into that paper. amendmentd, a, the was still pending business before the states, and, b, it was still needed because very fresh in my mind in march of 1982 when i was writing the disputed that highly december 1981 special tax break that members of congress gave to categorys as a unique of taxpayer. it only applied to them. and that was considered a backdoor pay raise. so i used that as an example of
8:06 pm
abuses that congress has engaged in. and that the amendment is still needed. so anyway, i turned in the paper. i get it back from the teaching assistant, with a c on it. andas very disappointing, given how much tender love and care i had put into the paper. so i was going to appeal this to the professor. i spoke with her. she said she would take a look at it. . i gave it to her. a few days later, she came back into the classroom. a huge, kind of auditorium almost with what had to have been over 200 students. as she was walking down the aisle, she saw me. she physically hurled it at me and said no change. it was pretty much right then and there that i decided i'm going to get that thing ratified. and truth beech rolled, brian, even if i had gotten an a, i
8:07 pm
still would have done it. because the lure of doing something like that was just too irresistible. brian: let's go back to the year 1982. you are how old? gregory: at that time, i had just turned 20. brian: you were enrolled in one course and what was your major? gregory: at the time, i was a liberal arts major. 310l,urse was government i think it was. year,uick aside, last 2017, the professor signed paperwork asking that my overall course grade in her class be elevated belatedly, by three and a half decades, from a c to an a.
8:08 pm
so officially, as of last year, 35 years later, i got an a in her course. brian: what was your hometown? gregory: my original hometown was detroit, michigan. i grew up in that city during most of the 1960's and most of the 1970's. 1978 that my year mother moved myself and my half brother to the dallas suburb of mesquite, texas. that is kind of where the story germinates and begins. say what one will about the city of detroit. at least it was a large metropolitan city, had a public transportation system, and i could go from point a to point b at will whenever i wanted. my news was never start -- my muse was never starving. but in the summer of mesquite, texas, it was quite a different.
8:09 pm
even though adjacent to a large, metropolitan city, it did not share the transportation system with that large city. i could not travel anywhere, other than walking short distances. so after school in the afternoons, i would come home and i would basically sit in the house and watch television. i was very interested in news and information, not so much entertainment, but news and information. i was very aware at about that time that congress had passed an amendment to the state --islatures which hadn't which, had it been ratified, it would have granted to the district of columbia. it was only a couple of months after that that congress
8:10 pm
extended the deadline for the equal rights amendment. my mother at that time was a member of the national organization for women. she would get numerous mailers, many of which are kind of like newspaper inserts that are not inside of envelopes. they were in that quality of paper that is newspaper quality. diminutiveng in her basementless house board to tears -- bored to tears. circulars. read the they would say, oh, we managed to schedule a floor vote in that state. i even thought back then, in 1978, wouldn't it we easier if we just had a nationwide do isndum, just like we 49 of the 50 state constitutions, were people just go vote and it is done in one day?
8:11 pm
so these thoughts were very much in my mind about the u.s. constitution and the process by which it is amended. having so little to be able to use beingquite and my m as starved as it was, i would just sit in the house and think lofty thoughts about the u.s. constitution. any further, we go i want to run a little clip of lillian cunningham, just because she deserves credit for asking us to have you come here. she introduced your story to us. this is her podcast at the -- at "the washington post." >> in 1982, gregory watson came across a series of amendments. hadmendments that congress
8:12 pm
proposed for ratification. >> but that not enough states had approved to become an amendment in the constitution. they had been mostly forgotten but most intrigued watson. in "theou can get it washington post" podcast about the constitution. how much publicity have you gotten over the years? gregory: a fair amount. was a great explosion of it in 1992, when the amendment crossed the threshold necessary. but i got quite a bit in 2017 for two reasons. 2017 marking the 25th anniversary of its ratification, coupled with the professor petitioning the university to elevate my overall grade in her course from a c to an a.
8:13 pm
brian: two weeks ago, you were on the daily show. why did that happen? what brought that about? gregory: they heard about me through that the bill city -- that publicity in 2017 and asked if i would like to be featured on their show. my answer is always yes and brian: let's watch 40 seconds of this. [video clip] >> you write this paper. tayes, i turned it into the and i get it back a few days later with a c on it. i appeal to the grade to professor. a few daysme back later, she saw me sitting in the aisle and she physically tossed it at me and said no change. i decided right then and there i'm going to get that amendment ratified. got a you saying this guy constitutional amendment ratified?
8:14 pm
be -- you areto supposed to be 19 years old. can you act like a hot teen? [laughter] brian: were you around when they filmed that? gregory: not when they did that part of it. they were gracious enough to come down to austin. the interview they filmed with me was at the campus of the university of texas. whatever martin luther king day was in january of this year. brian: for those who have never even thought of an amendment, how many are there to the constitution? gregory: at the moment, 27. brian: how does an amendment get passed? gregory: we have a unique system. there are two ways to propose
8:15 pm
and two ways to ratify. the one way to propose for all of them is for congress to pass it by two thirds vote in the u.s. senate, two thirds vote in the u.s. house of representatives. never have we gotten to the point, although close, to triggering what is known as an article 5 convention, which would be another way of the housing an amendment. but that has never come to fruition yet. there are two ways to ratify. the most common way would be for the state legislatures to ratify. it requires three fourths of them. yeare instance, in the 1933, a different method was used. mini article v convention's were conducted in the various states.
8:16 pm
they loosely approximated a referendum on the amendment. candidates would run and be on the ballot as, in this k, dry or wet -- in this case, dry or wet. voters would go to the voting booth. if you were of the opinion that prohibition should go away, you would vote for the wet candidate. if you thought prohibition was a good thing, you would vote for the dry candidate. brian: you graduated what year? gregory: i never graduated. that has caused me problems. brian: how far would you be from graduation? gregory: i believe the university would categorize me as a junior. brian: why did you stop? gregory: life got in the way. i had to work and wasn't always able to take time off for school.
8:17 pm
brian: what have you done with your life since then? what kind of work have you done? brian -- gregory: most of the work i have done is legislative. describe myself with one word, that one word would be legislative. i worked in the texas house of representatives and the texas senate for about three decades. i love that kind of work. i'm very talented at that kind of work. regrettably, it has become very .ge discriminatory and because i am now in my 50's, it is very difficult for me to persuade a member to rehire me. so i am very much right now on the outside looking in. and not prospering very well. lots of financial stresses. , when you are in your
8:18 pm
late 50's and you do not have a college degree, employers are not clamoring to hire you. so i have had to do a lot of menial work, working in retail and other types of jobs, just trying to keep my head above water. a mist of setting struggle and i have suffered greatly with it to this very day. brian: do you have a family? gregory: no wife. no children. brian: go back to the beginning of this again. what was the reaction after you got your c and you are going to try to get this amendment passed. how did you start? went to the 1981 tax break that the public found out about, even though they tried to hide it in a bill to benefit the coal miners of kentucky and west virginia in what was known as
8:19 pm
the black lung disease bill. because the public found out what had been done, a number of members in january 1982, the following month, they were vigorously filing legislation to repeal that special tax break for members. initially, my strategy was why not contact some of them to see if they might recommend somebody back home in the state capital in their home state. and i did strike some gold. i contacted united states senator william s cohan of maine. d wrote back saying, yes, i know exactly who -- he wrote back saying, yes, i know exactly who should file it c. he works for me. his name was ault. something must have happened to
8:20 pm
him. maybe he did not get reelected that november or something. but what occurred was, a gentleman last name schute filed it in the maine senate in early 1983. he passed it through the main senate and the maine house of was myntatives and maine first success story in april 1983. brian: at that point, how many states had ratified it? i wasy: at that point, under the mistaken impression that only seven states had ratified it. i had been walking around thinking, erroneously, that the most recent state to ratify was virginia in 1791. was shortly after maine in 1983 that i learned ohio had in 1873.the amendment
8:21 pm
and the reason that my curiosity was piqued was because there were some court cases and it might have been dylan versus gloss that cap saying the ohio senate ratified it but never mentioned the ohio house of representatives. the footnote to that court case graciously provided page numbers in the state legislative journals. curiosity got the best of me. state archives in columbus, ohio, and basically said would you he so kind to xerox these pages from the journal of the ohio senate and from the ohio house of representatives and mail those pages to me? a few weeks later, i get the envelope. i open it up and i am saying oh, my goodness, not only did the
8:22 pm
ohio senate ratify this amendment, in point of fact, so, too, did the ohio house of representatives, when the amendment would have been over eight decades old at that point in time. so now i know about ohio having ratified in 1873 and maybe the only one that ratified during the 1800s jury brian: we are talking about -- 1800s. brian: we talking about eight states after maine? gregory: there was another one 1997, fived out in years after the amendment was incorporated into the constitution. it turns out that kentucky, during its furthest month of statehood ratified the entire package of the bill of rights, all 12 of them. i had no clue. maybe it was nine
8:23 pm
states at that point when maine ratified it. brian: did you have any money when you started doing this? no, 1983 and 1984 were very lean years for me. this bye, i was doing mail, just mailing letters. my mother was gracious enough during those two years to help me financially and i was very grateful to her for doing that. i did not land gainful and stable employment until 1985 when i began to work for a house member who kept me on for eight years. i was very appreciative of those eight years. runn: how often have you into this roadblock that says you do not have a college degree and we can't hire you? gregory: very frequently. the 1980's, onn job postings, you would see burbridge that would say thathing -- see verbiage
8:24 pm
would say something like work experience could be substituted for educational attainment. to a very great degree, that verbiage has that -- vanished. brian: you got some attention in 1992 from congress on the florida house of representatives. let's watch. [video clip] >> perhaps no one work harder for this ratification of the amendment than a constituent of my, mr. gregory watson of austin, texas. discover the existence of the amendment while doing research as an undergraduate at the university of texas. he found that only eight states had ratified it as of 1982. mr. watson conducted a paper. interestingly enough, as an
8:25 pm
aside, he received a grade of c on the paper, a commentary on his professor that he shouldn't waste his time. [laughter] brian: go back to your teacher. i read about how someone took up your case and found her. do you remember her name? gregory: i always remembered her name. her name is sharon waite. she is still around. but she is no longer in the teaching profession. professor fratzich, not far from here, who did track her down. she telephoned me in 1996. she did not remember me, but we had an amicable chat. a professory,
8:26 pm
elkins at the university of texas, austin, tractor down again within the past year or so and conferred with her about the proposition of elevating my overall course grade from a c to an a. not only did i get a c on the paper, i got a c overall in the course. [laughter] again, so for people who did not follow every part of this thing, when you had nine states, how many did you need to pass this? gregory: with 50 states currently in the union, you have to have a minimum of 38 states. the following year, 1984, i shifted gears a little bit. i decided i was going to target certain states that i was -- that i thought would be fertile soil for this amendment.
8:27 pm
i was looking at states that were majority republican in both chambers of the legislature. at that time, that was the case in the colorado general assembly. so i began writing letters to the leadership in both the colorado senate and the colorado house of representatives. straoleman by the name of gh road back to me saying -- rote to me and said how about my colleague. he would be a good one to file this resolution. so representative milky did precisely that. he got it passed through the colorado house of representatives and senate. in 1984, colorado was the next success story. brian: did you travel anywhere? gregory: no, i was too
8:28 pm
impoverished. i did all of this through the u.s. postal service. brian: how often would people ignore you? gregory: very often. i would send out 100 letters. even back then, stamps were expensive. and if i sent out 100 letters, i might a lucky to get three replies. two of the replies -- well, one rep i would say very interesting idea, but that is federal. you should be contacting congress about that, not me in the state capital. , well, it's abe very interesting idea, but i've got too much on my plate. then there would be the third one that would say, yes, i would be delighted to file this resolution at the state capital. and that's all you needed. so i was operating under the assumption, correct assumption, that if you hurl just enough jell-o at just the right wall,
8:29 pm
surely, some of the jell-o will stick. and that theory worked well for me. brian: would the media call you? gregory: rarely, very rarely. and in the early years, there was very little media attention. pointt, i got to the where i actually didn't want media attention because it had the negative side effect of people who were not involved in the process, people that i would describe as charlatans, trying to steal it and claim that it was their idea and that they dreamed it all up and that they were in charge of the ratification. i ran into that situation quite sadly with a man in california who is now deceased. i discovered, because one of my
8:30 pm
michigan, he was trying to milk it as a fundraising mission. would try to get people to mail him a check of $17 and $.97. stay in the- no union had ratified the amendment at his opting. it was -- his prompting. it was at my prompting. contracted the hiv virus during surgery in 1982 when i wrote my paper. he expired from aids in 1989 and was no longer pestering people to send him checks. origin ofback to the the bill of rights. why did this amendment -- you say there were 12 and this was
8:31 pm
the original second amendment to -- why did it not pass than? gregory: -- not pass then? gregory: my theory would be this. of the 12 amendments, 10 of them pertained to civil rights. the other two, the congressional and the housent of representatives reapportionment amendment, really were not germane to the subject of civil rights. so my theory would be that those two amendments fell by the because theyy were not germane to the topic of civil rights. brian: at the time that you got involved in this, how important was the subject that are which is now the 27th amendment? gregory: i got a lot of help from congress. 1980's,he decade of the they continued to misbehave
8:32 pm
numerous times. and every time they would misbehave, interesting -- interest in the amendment would peak. in of the worst examples was february 1987. jim wright had just become speaker, from texas, of the u.s. house of representatives. time, members of congress would get automatic pay raises unless they voted to decline them within a very narrow window of time. i will never forget this. he said we will have our vote on the house floor as to whether we accept or decline our pay raise. did it after the deadline, one day too late, knowing that this would allow
8:33 pm
the members to say, well, i voted against the pay raise. it's here in the congressional record. let me show you. i was against it. becausehe same time, the vote was a day late, they would get to keep the pay raise anyway. [laughter] of course, the public always finds out about these things and they were very angry. and interest in the amendment sort again. it happened numerous times in the 1980's. brian: john boehner went on to be a speaker of the house. in 1982, he was a speaker from ohio. >> it was never believe that the amendment was truly necessary. but the true wisdom and the alignment of those people who put together our constitution once again is reflected in the wisdom of this amendment. at the time, only six states ratified the amendment. it wasn't only until 1873 that the seventh state ratify the
8:34 pm
amendment and that was my home state of ohio. and ratification in 1873 was a direct result of a pay raise that congress gave itself midterm during that year. 2018. this is the house of representatives has not had a pay raise since 2009. gregory: you may be right about that. have to keep you in mind is that they get cost-of-living adjustments that keep their salaries rising, albeit more modestly, than what had been the case during the 1980's and 1990's. brian: supposedly, that is not happening right now. 174 have been locked in at thousand dollars to $175,000 a -- $174,000 to $175,000 a year.
8:35 pm
gregory: they get those annual cola's. brian: should they? gregory: i think they are in violation because they are receiving them if or the election -- before the election. it was here in the district of columbia where a judge issued a ruling, as far as he was concerned, that they cola is not really a pay raise. that is how it skirted around the letter/spirit of the 27th amendment. go back to when you are going through the process of trying to get states. was there a moment where the thing was it in the water and you couldn't get anybody to move? gregory: no. i told myself, gregory, don't get upset.
8:36 pm
as long as at least one state for calendar year ratifies the amendment, be happy with that. don't get upset. so with that in mind, i was never concerned because, every year, i always got a minimum of one. in 1985, 5 states. in 1986, 3 states. in 1987, 4 states. in 1988, three states. in 1989, seven states. in 1990, two states. in 1991, one state. and again, i remembered what i told myself years earlier. as long as you get one state every year, be happy. so i was very grateful to have north dakota's one ratification in 1991. now i would attribute the
8:37 pm
slowing down of the process to the war in the persian gulf, which was occupying the attention of the nation in the year 1991. had that not occurred, i could have gotten perhaps missouri. but i was happy with north 1990 one and i was particularly happy with it because, oddly enough, in their 1987 session and in their 1989 it by onehey defeated vote. i couldn't believe it. it would pass the north dakota house of representatives by a comfortable margin. numberere an unusually of names, but i did not let that bother me because it past the north dakota house of representatives. it went to the north dakota senate and field by one vote. i thought, oh, that's just an
8:38 pm
aberration. when 1989 rolls around, there it passes. then it happens again. it passed the house of representatives, an unusual number of nay votes. it went to the north dakota senate, and it failed again by one vote. and there were flip-flops. people who were for it in 19 it inseven voted against it -- 1987 voted against it in 1989. people who were against it in 1987 were suddenly for it. there was no consistency. i told you that i shunned media attention. i put that aside in the case of north dakota. that was one case where i needed the media. directory newspaper of all the little newspapers in all the little towns in the state of north dakota.
8:39 pm
pages of the north dakota senate. you need to examine this. it keeps failing by one vote in the north dakota senate and they are flopping. those who were for it are against it and those who are against it are now for it. write a story about this. , who also diddy feature stories for a magazine called eight legislatures thezine ad the -- called state legislatures magazine wrote a story about it. it must've spooked them. because when 1991 rolled around -- and at this point, my house sponsor was no longer remember, so i found a senator who introduced it -- it had only four nays. through the house
8:40 pm
of representatives. so i had to do some extra work. brian: back to the basics of this amendment. says, when members of congress want to adjust their salaries, they can do so just as they have always been able to do so, but they are supposed to wait until the next election intervenes before that adjustment can take effect. has just aoften single citizen like you gotten an amendment passed to the constitution? gregory: i think just one time. i think it is just me. brian: when did you just start to take real pride? you told us about the fellow from california and you found it to be a competitive thing. gregory: yes, that was a very unfortunate situation. i had taken pride ever since maine ratified in 1983.
8:41 pm
i was a bit protective of it and for good reason. because, if you know anything about the world of politics, you know that there are charlatans, thieves, people who will claim that it was they who did what you did. and there is a lot of that in the world of politics. and it is a shame that that happens. history has been written, i have been given the credit that is due. but there were a number of people who did try to steal credit for it and try to tell other people that they were in charge of the movement to ratify the amendment when nothing could have been further from the truth. -- by theell smith way, all the members we are showing you are no longer in the
8:42 pm
congress. some of them are deceased. on the floor, he talked about the opposite that happened, the reducing of pay. let's watch. [video clip] >> the amendment we are talking about has been misrepresented widely on the news. it has been widely misrepresented here today. it is not about pay raises. it is about adjustments in pay of any kind. at the time that the constitution was adopted, the fear at that time was that there would be powerful interests, that there would be wealthy people that would try to control the government, tried to interfere with the independence of judges by reducing their pay. brian: the british supposedly used to do that, where they would keep the payload because the people who wanted to serve were rich and that people who did not have any money could not afford to run. gregory: it is true that the 27th amendment cuts both ways.
8:43 pm
if they were ever to try to reduce their salaries, that would also have to await an intervening election. i think, in a way, that is good. picture in your mind a scenario whereby, let's just say the current congress, the 115th congress that is sitting right say that botht chambers flip from red to blue. we will just stipulate that. it could be that the ousted to exact soment revenge upon their successors and a vote a steep reduction in new,y so as to punish the incoming 116th congress. so this amendment, the 27th
8:44 pm
amendment, would put the kebab shall not have a thing as well. -- put the cup boss -- put the kabosh on that as well. it has served its purpose of preventing congress from enriching itself the on all imagine it -- beyond all imagination. it has done all it has intended to do in my opinion. did yout the time, figure out how much it all cost you? gregory: yes. i estimated, over the course of the decade from 1982 when i started to 1992. there was gainful and stable employment in the latter portion of that 10-year window time for me. i would estimate that, when you add up all the postage stamps,
8:45 pm
the envelopes, making xerox copies, all of that good stuff, it probably came to about $6,000. that was a lot of money to me. in the world of politics, even in the early 1990's, $6,000 would have been mere chicken feed. but it was a lot to me. but i was able to get a lot -- get something meaningful accomplished. so it was money well spent. brian: you told us you are having a hard time finding gainful employment. what would be the best kind of a job you would have at this point in your life? wouldy: given that i describe myself with the word "legislative," i would love perhaps to work here in washington, d.c., for united states senator or a member of the united states house of representatives.
8:46 pm
i would certainly be happy to return to the state capitol in muchn if there were not so age discrimination and refusal to even consider someone who is over 25 years of age to work in the legislature. when i started in the legislature in 1982, it was at that time -- the workforce was mostly mature females in their 50's and 60's. there were very few young people back in those days. as the years went by, there was this huge demographic shift. it is now almost solidly young people. two genders have reached a better state of equality. when i started, it was more like 90% female, maybe 10% male. today, maybe 60% female, 40%
8:47 pm
male. the gender gap has diminished considerably. but the age demographic has been wild in its shift. it is almost exclusively young people. you will find in the halls of the texas state capitol very few employees in their 50's or even in their 40's. brian: how do you survive? gregory: it is not easy. tempe moment, i am doing work for the city of boston -- austin in-- of the planning department. it's a struggle. juggled 2, 3, sometimes for part-time jobs. part-timeent, -- four jobs. at the moment, i am working only 40 hours a week.
8:48 pm
but i may begin searching something weekday evenings, something saturdays, something sundays because i cannot pay my bills. it causes tremendous stress. thought at all about teaching and would anybody allow you to teach without a college degree? gregory: i don't think that they would. brian: don't you have a reality course of how to get an amendment passed? gregory: i have that. but when you stop and think about it, how marketable is that? how many employers are looking for someone who got an amendment into the united states constitution? andt's a very sad dilemma causes me tremendous misery. brian: let's go back to some video, back to 1992. your time in the box. by the way, what day, what moment did you find out that you had won this thing?
8:49 pm
lady in the office of the clerk of the michigan house 7,representatives on may placed thegraciously receiver of her telephone next to what we call the back in those days a squawk box, and we had those at the austin state capital. buy her being so kind and gracious as to do that, i was an to the michigan house of representatives casting that final vote on the amendment. but of course, it turns out that michigan was not the state that put the amendment over the top. the discovery of kentucky's inions 200 years earlier 1792 means the amendment was
8:50 pm
actually amended -- actually ratified two days before that when alabama lawmakers acted. george allen on the floor back in 1992. [video clip] ofi have the privilege representing mr. madison's district in virginia. virginia 200 one years ago ratified this amendment to the constitution. we have a lot of concern of what is going on in congress. the people want accountability. what important to remember james madison wrote in 1789 and i will paraphrase it. there is seeming impropriety in leaving any set of men and women these days in control without any sort of control to put their hands into the public coffers to take money out to put into their
8:51 pm
own coffers. celebrated atu all when this all came about? gregory: to an extent. i certainly got a lot of publicity. you mentioned "the washington post." i was differentially -- i was definitely mentioned in ther. -- in there. "people magazine," law reviews. i am satisfied with the level of received.t i have the charlatans who attempted to steal credit over the years, i don't believe so much as a single one is findable today in a google search. so ultimately, i have prevailed. there other amendments working through the process right now that have any possibility of getting passed? gregory: this goes back to the
8:52 pm
equal rights amendment. after the 27th amendment was ratified in 1992, some equal rights amendment supporterss in the 1990's came up with a theory that they referred to the three-states strategy. they were in the belief that, if three additional states where to ratify the equal rights amendment, that it would satisfy the requirements of article v and would become the 28th amendment to the u.s. constitution. it took until the year 2017, just last year, for a state to seriously pursue that strategy. and that was nevada, which ratified the e.r.a. just out of the clear blue. 2018,days ago, on may 30, this year, the illinois general assembly also belatedly ratified they will rights amendment.
8:53 pm
amendment.l rights a lot of questions will come up with that. because the equal rights amendment had won deadline -- depending on who you talk to, to deadlines. on didndment i worked not have a deadline whatsoever. so the question becomes -- can you just ignore deadlines? e.r.a.,t deadline for march 20 2, 1979, the allegedly revised the deadline, june 30, 1982, either way you slice it, both of those dates have come and gone decades ago. who stated those deadlines? gregory: congress. it wasn't until 101 years ago that congress got into the habit of setting deadlines. anything prior to 1917 never had a deadline. byrd does not bob
8:54 pm
like the fact that it was ratified by the archivist before they had something to say about it. gregory: i get the same impression. [laughter] brian: what would you advise someone who said, hey, i would like to do this? gregory: be prepared for a lot of work. is going to take a lot of patients. i will -- it is going to take a lot of haitians -- patience. it is much more difficult to get the attention of a state legislator in 2018 than it was back in the early 1980's. if i thought they were unresponsive in the 1980's, they are almost impervious today in 2018. brian: do you live in austin?
8:55 pm
gregory: yes. brian: do you ever go back to that spot where you found the book? gregory: i have. however, in the past eight months, that library has been closed down and replaced with a larger facility approximately eight blocks away. so that building now sits empty. it was the john henry faulk public library. you do anything to memorialize this constant? gregory: in what sense? brian: is there a plaque somewhere? is there a book in the library that you used in those days? gregory: much to my disappointment, when i revisited that library in the spring of last year, that book nor a successor to that book was anywhere to be found in the john henry falk library. of course, i understand that
8:56 pm
libraries will discard materials in order to make room for new materials. but that was rather disappointing, that that the book or a successor to it, which booksgovernment printed from the gpl, it was their copy of the constitution, including amendments.ed the last printing i had seen of it was 11 years ago in 2007. brian: don't you think there should be a gregory watson statue somewhere on the university of texas campus? gregory: well, of course, yes. [laughter] brian: would you be willing to and putthat to be done outside of the library? gregory: yes, absolutely. but the question is who would fund this? brian: no book on this? gregory: no, but i ponder from time to time the writing of a
8:57 pm
book. but you have to understand i am so preoccupied with every day -- with day-to-day survival and keeping my head above water financially. i cannot even think about things like that right now. brian: our guest has been greg watson, based in austin, texas, the man responsible for getting the 27th amendment passed through the unite states constitution. gregory: thank you for having me. it's been a pleasure. ♪ for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at at q& and
8:58 pm
week, discussing her memoir, daughter of the cold war. that's q&a next sunday night on c-span. c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. pollio,orning, alina discusses president trump's meeting with president vladimir putin. jeffrey edmon joins us to talk about russia's military presence in syria and the balkans. be sure to watch at 7:00 eastern monday morning. join the discussion. russiandent trump and
8:59 pm
president vladimir putin are scheduled to hold a joint press conference monday. we will have live coverage of their remarks beginning at 9:50 a.m. eastern on c-span. the british cabinet office minister david livingstone fills in for theresa may during question time in the house of commons. then a joint news conference with president trump and prime minister may followed by the president's visit with greenough zip -- with queen elizabeth. 11:00, q&a with gregory watson talking about his efforts to ratify the 27th amendment. at question time this week, a cabinet office minister filled in for prime minister theresa may who is attending the nato summit in brussels. he discussed president trump's visit to great written a much ramped -- to great britain, transatlantic relations, and


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on