Is the Constitution’s Convention for Proposing Amendments a 'Mystery'? Overlooked Evidence in the Narrative of Uncertainty

58 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2020 Last revised: 23 Mar 2020

See all articles by Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes

Date Written: March 20, 2020

Abstract

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 that claim is 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, constitutional convention, amendments convention, amendments

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Natelson, Robert G., Is the Constitution’s Convention for Proposing Amendments a 'Mystery'? Overlooked Evidence in the Narrative of Uncertainty (March 20, 2020). Marquette Law Review, Vol. 104, 2020. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3516847 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3516847

Robert G. Natelson (Contact Author)

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes ( email )

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Denver, CO 80203
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303-279-6536 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://robnatelson.com

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