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A Rich History of Conventions

One of the most persistent, yet entirely false arguments by opponents to an Article V Convention is the myth of a runaway convention. As shown elsewhere on our website, on September 27, 1787 Congress conducted an official vote on the question that the just completed 1787 Constitutional Convention (10 days earlier) had exceeded its authority in proposing the Constitution instead of  "revising" the Articles of Confederation as the February 21, 1787 call  issued by Congress seem to indicate. The question before Congress was not whether the convention had exceeded its authority but rather whether Congress (who considered and referred to the convention as a congressional committee) had exceeded its authority under the Articles of Confederation. As we show all but four members of Congress voted against the proposition soundly defeating the measure that determining Congress did not exceed its authority in calling the convention. Moreover, under terms of the Articles of Confederation, it was Congress not the convention that officially proposed the Constitution to the states for ratification. This vote must be viewed as conclusive and unequivocal for the following reasons:
The terms of the Constitution are explicit: the Constitution cannot be amended unless an amendment is first proposed either by a two thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a two thirds vote of state delegations in an Article V Convention. Subsequently the proposed amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states either by the state legislatures in each state or by state ratification conventions held in each state for that purpose. Naturally, any amendment proposal has, and will, generate tremendous policitical interest. This political fact raises the additional barrier beyond the constitutional that massive political support must be generated in order to obtain the required two-thirds and three-fourths votes necessary for amendment passage. Given these barries, it not surprising that while well over 10,000 amendments have been proposed in Congress, only 27 thus far have become part of the Constitution.

These facts, which are always ignored by convention opponents, clearly disprove the myth of a "runaway" convention. However there is  another fact about conventions that opponents ignore. The fact is the large number of state conventions that have been held in this nation in all 50 states, none of which has ever been a "runaway." Between the years 1776 and 1917, records show 679 American State Constitutional Conventions have been held in this nation. Thus, it is clear the American people have a rich history of conventions on which to draw to hold an Article V Convention. This history alone shows there is nothing to fear regarding a convention as none of the 679 (or more) conventions held to date has ever resulted in a "runaway" convention.