The Con-Con Con

About 20 states have made a serious error, applying to Congress for a Constitutional Convention to amend for purposes they’ve submitted, including political process reform. Because Conventions can’t vote on ideas submitted to Congress, either these are invalid or they’re read as general Convention requests (the law hasn’t been settled). If thirty-four states apply Congress could call a general Convention, exposing the Constitution to risk. A Convention can redraw the entire Constitution (see Valid Amendment and The Final Extremity). Two of the above states have rescinded their applications. The others should follow their lead.

The Convention method takes all power over the nature of our government and laws away from the people, the legislatures, the courts and the ordinary Article V process and gives it to the delegates. It’s only worth risking when the country is about to collapse, requiring immediate and total overhaul. It would be drastic overkill now. Reform ideas for the political process and the other purposes are being tested at the local and state levels, with more permanent national proposals submitted to or generated in Congress. The best features of all of these have been joined in this amendment.​

We’ve had multiple Constitutional questions in play before without needing a Convention. Between 1909 and 1912 Congress passed two amendments. From 1865 to 1869, three. More often, we found the topics could be addressed by statutes.

In 1787 we called one because danger was imminent. Our allies were close to invading us: the Articles of Confederation made the government too weak to collect taxes to pay our Revolutionary War debt to them (or to raise an army if they did invade). Interstate commerce was collapsing: states were tariffing each other's goods outrageously. They were also overtaxing small businesses and firing on protesters who couldn't pay (often veterans who hadn't been paid). Congress had no power to stop them. The Convention's official stated purpose wasn't "to draft a better Constitution" because if anyone heard we were in such bad shape they'd declare war, but the Confederation was failing.

Article V: "The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, [...]” 

The text and history agree that the two methods are distinct to guard against risking the entire Constitution for one or two potential amendments. This wording restricts a Constitutional Convention to proposing its own amendments, generated in the course of the Convention. A Constitutional Convention can’t propose amendments submitted to Congress. Article V requires that any submissions be made to Congress which, after two thirds have approved, can then propose them to the people.

Bear in mind that a Constitutional Convention to correct the compromising effect of money on our government officers is least promising, and most dangerous, if money has in fact been compromising some of our officers.

If your state has already applied to Congress for a Constitutional Convention, put a referendum on the ballot to withdraw it. If it’s too late to put one on the ballot or your state doesn’t use them, start a petition to withdraw it. If it’s on the ballot as an initiative in your state, get out the vote against it.

If your state has already applied to Congress for a Constitutional Convention, put a referendum on the ballot to withdraw it (see Using Ballot Initiatives and Statutes). If it’s too late to put it on the ballot or your state doesn’t use them, start a petition to withdraw it. If it’s on the ballot as an initiative in your state, get out the vote against it (See The Con-Con Con and The Final Extremity).

Amendment can’t be done validly by statute or ruling but it’s being done invalidly more and more, sometimes by well-intentioned people who are frustrated with the political process (see Statute vs Constitutional Amendment, and the Tomorrow's Issues in Political Process subsection). 

Even when well meant, these efforts tend to have messy results as well as violating Article V.
Bypassing or relaxing Article V does not benefit the nation. This section supports the valid process by detailing a clause in Article VI that requires government officers to support the Constitution’s text. When they think the text has been amended by a statute or ruling they can use Amendment I’s Grievance clause to apply to Congress on the subject, obliging Congress to debate it publicly; if Congress then decides the text has been invalidly amended they must address it (see Restoring Invalidly Amended Text).

Please gather information about these issues and participate in deciding them. These matters central to our democracy are being tested right now.

Article V states twice that only Congress can hold a Constitutional convention,

not the states.


As the United States of America is both federal and national, passage and ratification must involve both Congress and the states. Article V states plainly that any amendment passed at a Constitutional Convention still has to be ratified by the states. This would make it redundant to hold the Convention at the state level. Both passage and ratification would happen at the state level. Neither would happen at the national level. Requiring ratification by the states asserts that only Congress could hold the Convention.


Article V also asserts that Congress would propose the mode of ratification ("as one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress"). The proposal of a mode of ratification is part of the amendment proposal. Since the body that passes the amendment makes the amendment proposal, this says that any Constitutional Convention must be held by Congress . The states can’t hold a Constitutional Convention.

Another assertion in Article V:

A Constitutional Convention can’t vote on anything submitted, only on amendments generated in Convention. Article V requires submitting potential amendments to Congress, which may only vote on them in ordinary session.

Although Article V doesn’t express it, the two-thirds vote required for passage of a single amendment couldn’t logically be reduced for a Constitutional Convention. The difference between debating one topic in ordinary session and holding a Convention is scope: a Convention is unlimited in its power  to remake the Constitution.
It couldn’t require a smaller majority.

Constitutional Convention means the country is in desperate straits requiring total overhaul. It would mean deferring other business. This would be overkill now. We have had multiple amendments in play before without needing a convention.