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Why the Constitution's 'Convention for Proposing Amendments' Is a Convention of the States

October 31, 2017

State lawmakers weighing whether to apply for a federal amendments convention are often asked, "How do you know an amendments convention is a convention of the states?"

U.S. Constitution

This Heartland Policy Brief—“Why the Constitution’s ‘Convention for Proposing Amendments’ Is a Convention of the States”—gives a firm answer.

The Policy Brief’s author, Professor Robert G. Natelson, is widely acknowledged as America’s leading active scholar on the Constitution’s amendment process. His work reveals:

  • Newly uncovered Founding-era official documents identifying an amendments convention as a “convention of the states.”
  • The little-known U.S. Supreme Court case stating an amendments convention is a “convention of the states.”
  • The two delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention who specifically called an amendments convention a “convention of the states.”
  • How the first legislative application for an amendments convention—passed in 1788—identified an amendments convention a “convention of the states.”
  • How leading Founders emphasized over and over again the state legislatures’ leading role in proposing amendments.
  • Why the convention of states model remains the ONLY model in tune with modern realities.

Natelson concludes,

A convention for proposing amendments is a convention of the states. That conclusion is supported by history previous to the Constitution’s ratification, by numerous explicit and implicit statements from the Ratification Era, and by the constitutional design.