Constitutional convention (political meeting)
A constitutional convention is a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution. An unlimited constitutional convention is called to revise an existing constitution to the extent that it deems to be proper, whereas a limited constitutional convention is restricted to revising only the areas of the current constitution named in the convention's call, the legal mandate establishing the convention.
Makeup of a convention
Members of a constitutional convention are often elected in a manner similar to a regular legislature, and may often involve members of regular legislatures as well as individuals selected to represent minorities of the population. The resulting constitutional draft is often subjected to a popular vote via referendum before it enters into force.
Examples of constitutional conventions include:
- United States: Annapolis Convention (1786), which proposed what became the Philadelphia Convention (1787) – Drafted the United States Constitution for ratification by the states. Article V of the constitution sets forth a mechanism whereby future constitutional conventions can be held. The constitution has been amended several times since the Philadelphia Convention, but never (as of 2011) by this method.
- France: The National Convention of 1792 (commonly referred to as The Convention) convened during The French Revolution on September 20 with the purpose of writing a Republican Constitution following the suspension of the French Monarchy. The monarchy was officially abolished on September 21 by The Convention.
- Missouri Constitutional Convention (1861-63), established Missouri's provisional government during the American Civil War
- Canada: (1864), Quebec Conference, 1864, and London Conference of 1866.
- Australian constitutional conventions – 1891, 1897, 1973 and 1998.
- Germany: Parlamentarischer Rat (Parliamentary Council) (1948) – Drafted the Basic Law of the Federal Republic for ratification by the Länder.
- Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention (1975–1976) – a failed attempt to find a solution to the status of Northern Ireland.
- Scottish Constitutional Convention (1989) – produced a plan for Scottish devolution.
- European Convention (2001) – Drafted the Constitution for Europe for approval by the European Council and ratification by the member states.
- Philippine Constitutional Convention
- 1935 – to draft a constitution to create the autonomous Commonwealth of the Philippines under the U.S. Tydings–McDuffie Act. The constitution was also used in the 3rd Republic (1946) until the passage of the 1973 constitution. Members were elected through the Philippine Constitutional Convention election, 1934
- 1971 – to draft a revised constitution to replace the old U.S. customed 1935 Philippine constitution. Members were elected through the Philippine Constitutional Convention election, 1970. The system of government changed from Presidentitial to Parliamentary to Presidentital-Parliamentary (in 1984 amendment). The constitution lasted until the downfall of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Corazon Aquino appointed members to draft the 1987 Constitution through a Constitutional Commission.
Constitutional conventions have also been used by constituent states of federations — such as the individual states of the United States — to create, replace, or revise their own constitutions. Though the several states have never held a national constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing amendments, the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified not by the state legislatures, but by state level conventions after it was passed by Congress, as described as an alternate method of ratification in Article V of the US Constitution.
Several American academics have criticized the United States Constitution for specific shortcomings and have called for a Second Constitutional Convention, including University of Texas constitutional law expert Sanford Levinson, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, University of Kentucky professor Richard Labunski, Vanderbilt University professor Dana D. Nelson, and Yale University professor Robert A. Dahl, although professor Dahl believes there is no real hope that such a Convention might ever happen.
In Ireland, the government elected in March 2011 has committed to establishing a "constitutional convention" to recommend constitutional amendments on six specified issues and others it may consider; the government has separately promised amendments on five other issues.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Constitutional conventions (political meetings).|
- Constituent assembly
- Convention parliament
- Constitutional commission
- Independence Convention
- Article V convention
- "Professor Stanford Levinson Proposes a New Constitutional Convention". Colorado Law – Univ. of Colorado at Boulder. January 25, 2008. Retrieved September 20, 2009.
- Sanford Levinson (LA Times article available on website) (October 16, 2006). "Our Broken Constitution". University of Texas School of Law – News & Events. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- "http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/12212007/profile.html". Public Broadcasting Service: Bill Moyers' Journal. December 21, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- MICHAEL KINSLEY (November 5, 2006). "Essay: Election Day". New York Times: Sunday Book Review. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- By Larry J. Sabato (September 26, 2007). "An amendment is needed to fix the primary mess". USA Today. Retrieved September 20, 2009.
- Richard Labunski interviewed by Policy Today's Dan Schwartz (October 18, 2007). "Time for a Second Constitutional Convention?". Policy Today. Retrieved September 20, 2009.
- Robert A. Dahl (February 11, 2002). "How Democratic Is the American Constitution?". Yale University Press. Retrieved September 20, 2009.
- Dáil debates Vol.728 No.3 p.5 March 22, 2011