History Bite

What happened at the last constitutional convention?

Desperately seeking to preserve the Union of the newly established United States, the Continental Congress assembled in 1787 “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.”*  The Articles of Confederation were conceived of principles defended by the American Revolution,  yet were viewed as inadequate for  designating a new government and in need of revision sufficient “to render them adequate to the preservation and support of the Union.”*  It was, therefore, the goal of several delegates,  including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, to create a different form of government and this is, in fact, what resulted. Lucky for us,  the Articles of Confederation were dismissed and replaced by the US Constitution i.e. a constitutional representative republic which led to the greatest opportunity for individual liberty in the history of mankind.

However, this story from our national history illustrates how the original intent of a convention can be altered once the delegates are within the confines of the convention and negotiations commence.  Some Americans believe the US Constitution asserts a set of inalienable, eternal, fundamental rights and that interpretation of the document should always adhere to original intent.  Others believe the rights enumerated in the US Constitution are anachronistic, valid only during the era of their conception and no longer suffice to meet the needs of a country in progress, therefore, call for  bold revision. 

Engaged Americans should consider the benefits and risks of such a convention. 

What might be the outcome of a second Constitutional Convention? 

•Who would serve as delegates and how would they be chosen?

•Would these delegates be constitutionalists?

•Who would finance the event? Taxpayers? Interest groups? Corporations?

•If Congress is failing to abide by the current US Constitution, why would adding

amendments via convention necessarily correct the behavior?

Many questions loom around this call for a Constitutional Convention. 

Pennsylvania has three open calls introduced in 2017 (HR187, HR 357,SR133).