Why the Constitution's 'Convention for Proposing Amendments' Is a Convention of the States
59 Pages Posted: 8 May 2017 Last revised: 4 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 3, 2020
Since the 1960s, leading academics and other commentators have claimed that the composition and protocols of the Constitution’s “Convention for proposing Amendments” are unknown and/or subject to congressional control. Today those claims are on a collision course with growing public sentiment for an amendments convention to address federal dysfunction.
This Article reviews the academic literature, and then collects the evidence showing that the narrative of uncertainty is substantially false. This evidence includes Founding-era records and later confirmatory material, including a widely-overlooked Supreme Court decision.
The evidence is essentially uncontradicted. It informs us that an amendments convention is what the founders called a “convention of the states”—a gathering whose composition and protocols were universally understood when the Constitution was adopted. This Article describes the composition and protocols and explains how the “convention of states” model fits within the Constitution’s structure.
Keywords: constitutional law, constitution, Article V, Article 5, constitutional amendment, constitutional convention, amendments convention, convention for proposing amendments, convention of states, convention of the states
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation