Cross-posted in Truthout
Let’s try a thought experiment. Some 230 years after the US’s constitutional convention, a new group of patriots are assembling. Instead of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, however, they’re gathering in Philadelphia, Mississippi. All states are invited to send representatives, but some question the convention’s legitimacy or its goals, and decline the invitation in protest. Once there, others walk out of the proceedings, also in protest. Like the Constitution’s framers, the convention’s organizers offer a pretext for coming together: They are planning to tweak an important, but flawed, charter. But their real mission is to overhaul the document, and each delegate has thoughts on the end product.
On second thought, visualizing this scenario requires little imagination because it’s essentially what a group of politicians have been working on since Arizona’s legislature passed a law for a planning convention in March. To be clear, the September 12, 2017, gathering was not itself a full-blown constitutional convention like the ones conservatives have been teeing up. Instead, the convening was a “dress rehearsal”—laying the ground for a convention—where they were to draft rules and plan other logistics.
Our Constitution can be amended in two ways. One path begins with a resolution in Congress. If two-thirds of the House and Senate vote in support of a proposal, Congress sends it to the states for ratifications. If three-quarters of the states approve, the amendment, now ratified, becomes a part of the Constitution. This method has been used successfully 27 times.
Read the full post on Truthout.
The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily those of the Brennan Center for Justice.