Phyllis Schlafly is one of a very small number of people who can be accurately described as indispensable to her country. She simply cannot be replaced. Had she not been such an active and powerful force in the American conservative movement for the past sixty-plus years, our country would not be what it is today; and the conservative movement would be in a much weaker position. Indeed, she has few equals in the pantheon of modern American conservative heroes. She stands on the same stage with such conservative greats as William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan.
My collaboration with Phyllis began about a decade ago, shortly after I left the Ashcroft Justice Department and embarked on a run for Congress in my home state of Kansas. Although I lost the general election against an entrenched Democrat incumbent after winning the primary, I gained a wonderful friend and ally in Phyllis. Ever since then, we have collaborated on a wide range of conservative causes: restoring the rule of law in elections and immigration, opposing the ACLU and its fellow travelers in litigation battles concerning immigration, drafting successive Republican platforms, and generally fighting the good fight for the conservative movement.
Although all of my time with Phyllis has been a treasure, without question I have enjoyed our quadrennial platform battles at the Republican National Convention the most. Every four years, on the day before Platform Committee begins its work, General Schlafly assembles her conservative troops among the Platform Committee members and lays out the battle plan. Our strategic and tactical planning usually occurs in a conference room of a hotel and lasts well into the night. Phyllis designates officers to lead the charge on specific issues and makes sure we are all fighting for precisely the same platform language. The result is a wonder to behold. A few days later, when the Republican Platform is completed, it always bears Phyllis’s imprint. Indeed, if one were to highlight all of the language that Phyllis has contributed to Republican platforms over the years, the documents would be awash in fluorescent yellow. It is no exaggeration to say that Phyllis has had more influence on Republican Platforms since the 1970s than any other person. If only more Republican presidents and presidential candidates had taken the time to read and commit themselves to her language.
Of course, her regular policy writing is more well-known to the general public. When Phyllis publishes her position on any given issue, you can bet that many Republican congressional staffers will read it soon thereafter and either pass it along directly or summarize it for their bosses. Phyllis writes in a way that the lawyer in me loves. Her reasoning is clear, linear, and to the point. She supports every assertion with compelling evidence. And she leads the reader to an inevitable, rock-solid conclusion. Because of her brilliant analysis of so many issues over the years, legions of Eagle Forum members have deployed to state capitol buildings, town hall meetings, and political debates armed to the teeth with persuasive information. One can always rest assured that when the dust settles the Eagles will have won the debate.
However the most important thing that I can say about Phyllis is that she has helped preserve the United States Constitution. Just about everything that she writes reflects her understanding of, and love for, the Constitution. In an era when few members of Congress have even read the Constitution, a president disregards the Constitution with impunity, and all too many judges are trying to reinterpret the Constitution, America needs powerful voices who speak in defense of the Constitution. Phyllis does so with great effect. I do not know, but I am confident enough to speculate, that many of the greatest originalist judges in America have read Phyllis’s writings. Their decisions are better because of it. And our battered Constitution hangs on for another generation. From a constitutional perspective perhaps more than any other, Phyllis Shlafly has been indispensable.
By Kris W. Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, Former Professor of Constitutional Law, Univ. of Missouri—Kansas City