Constitutional Brinksmanship: Amending the Constitution by by Russell L. Caplan

By Russell L. Caplan

During this first systematic examine of the criminal difficulties in relation to the conference clause, Russell Caplan exhibits that repeated constitutional crises have given upward thrust to nation drives for a countrywide conference approximately each two decades because the structure used to be enacted. He deftly examines the politics of constitutional brinksmanship among Congress and the states to bare the continued stress among nation and federal rights and constitutional culture and reform.

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1 The Power to Propose Article V began as the thirteenth of fifteen proposals together known as the Randolph or Virginia Plan, the work of Madison but presented to the convention on May 29 by the Governor of Virginia, Edmund Randolph: Resd. that provision ought to be made for the amendment of the Articles of Union whensoever it shall seem necessary, and that the assent of the National Legislature ought not to be required thereto. The exclusion of Congress was the result of its failure to propose amendments in the immediately preceding years.

59 Sentiment grew in Congress as well for a broad-gauged convention. According to Richard Henry Lee, many members were now, in the early 1780s, suggesting "as a very necessary Step for Congress to take— The calling upon the States to form a Convention for the Sole purpose of revising the Confederation ... " Washington protested the "want of energy in the Federal Constitution . . "60 To invest Congress with powers to execute a national commercial policy, Governor Bowdoin on May 31, 1785, recommended to the Massachusetts legislature that the state's congressional delegation be instructed to propose a convention for that purpose.

Articles of association, reciting grievances against the proprietary government, were drafted by the military and circulated by rebel leaders. When the province's Commons House of Assembly met, on December 10, it declared that the election laws had been repealed in a fashion "contrary to the Design and original Intent" of the proprietary charter and hence were still in force; since the subsequent election was void, the members of the house were not a regular legislature. The members accordingly resolved "That we cannot Act as an Assembly, but as a Convention, delegated by the People, to prevent the utter Ruin of this Government .

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