The U.S. State Con-Con Papers

233 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2021 Last revised: 24 Jun 2024

See all articles by J. H. Snider

J. H. Snider

The State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse

Date Written: June 24, 2024


The U.S. State Con-Con Papers includes four sections: The first is an introduction. The second is a collection of J.H. Snider’s 67 state-specific brief essays (“op-eds”) on the history, democratic function, and politics of the periodic constitutional convention referendum (PCCR), which is mandated by 14 U.S. state constitutions. The op-eds, organized chronologically, cover nine of the most recent referendums: Rhode Island (2024 and 2014), Alaska (2022), Missouri (2022), New Hampshire, (2022), Iowa (2020), Hawaii (2018), New York (2017), and Maryland (2010). In eight of those nine referendums, PCCR was the only constitutional mechanism that allows the people—the constituent power—to bypass the state legislature’s gatekeeping power over constitutional amendment; that is, the constitutional initiative is not an option. The next PCCR is in Rhode Island in 2024. The third section includes Snider’s presentations and essays providing a multi-state overview of convention politics.

The fourth section includes Snider’s essays on the ongoing constitutional convention in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), one of five U.S. territories and one of only two lacking its own constitution (the other is Guam). In 2020, USVI voters called a convention to propose a constitution to replace USVI’s current organic act. The election for convention delegates is scheduled for Nov. 5, 2024. Since 1986—almost four decades ago—no U.S. state has both called an independently elected convention and passed an enabling act to convene one. The primary difference between an organic act and a constitution is who controls the amendment power: Congress or a local legislature. Given that Congress requires a U.S. territory to convene an independently elected convention if it wants its own constitution, a local legislature may champion calling a convention primarily as a way to empower rather than bypass itself—the opposite of convention politics in PCCR states. The blatant flaws in USVI’s enabling act provide an opportunity to rethink how higher lawmaking in U.S. states should be reformed.

Keywords: constitution, constitutional convention, constitutional convention referendum, state constitutional convention, periodic state constitutional convention referendum

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Snider, J. H., The U.S. State Con-Con Papers (June 24, 2024). Available at SSRN: or

J. H. Snider (Contact Author)

The State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse ( email )

United States
(202) 540-0505 (Phone)

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