one. The Constitution, with characteristic economy of phrase, simply directs that “Congress on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for the proposing of Amendments 22 . ” Beyond the language of Article V, however, observers have identified subsidiary issues for consideration by Congress, of which three may arguably be most important: • Is Congress obligated to call an Article V Convention on the receipt of sufficient state applications? • What sort of con vention does Article V authorize? • If an Article V Convention proposes amendments, does Congress have any discretion as to whether they must be submitted to the states for consideration? Is Congress Required to Call a Convention? The language of the Constitution is notably straightforward on Congress‟s duty to call an Article V Convention: “... on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, [Congress] shall call a Convent ion for proposing Amendments… (emphasis added)” The founders‟ intentions seem unmistakable, and no less an authority than Alexander Hamilton wrote emphatically that, once the two- thirds threshold is met, “the Congress will be obliged ... to call a convention for proposing amendments .... The words of this article are peremptory. The Congress „shall call a convention.‟ Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body (emphasis added). And of consequence, all the declamation of disinclination to a change vanishes in air.” One scholar, Russell L. Caplan, noted that, “ t he founding generation spoke with one voice on this duty,” going on to quote the writings of John Marshall, James Iredell, John Dickinson, and James Madison in which they all asserted the obligation of Congress to call a convention once the two-thirds threshold has been passed. Given the founders‟ stern injunctions, on what grounds could Congress decline to call a convention? Several factors concerning state applications might be used to represent state applications as defective, and therefore not valid. For instance, most constitutional scholars hold that applications proposing a specifically worded amendment are invalid. As one observer noted, “these resolutions seek to make the „Convention‟ part of the ratifying (emphasis in the original) process, rather than part of the deliberative process for “proposing” constitutional amendments .... they are applications for a convention empowered solely to approve or disapprove the submission to the states of particular amen dments „proposed‟ elsewhere.” Another reason for hesitation in calling an Article V Convention centers on the 22 The Article V Convention: Contemporary Issues for Congress, p.18.
Amendment procedure India V. U.S. great issue of its scope ― general versus limited. A further potential impediment is lack of contemporaneity, in other words, an application or applications have expired and no longer have any force. It should be noted, however, that the advocacy group, Friends of the Article V Convention, holds that state applications never expire.
- Fall '19
- United States Constitution