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
Date Written: March 20, 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 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: Suggested Citation