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, which was ratified by all thirteen of the states in the original Union. Two procedures for proposing amendments are set out in Article V of the constitution, but only one has ever been used. The process begins with Congress, which by two-thirds majority votes of the Senate and House of Representatives may submit amendments to the states for ratification. Under the second, untried method, amendments may be proposed by a national constitutional convention, which Congress must convene if asked to do so by the legislatures of two-thirds of the states. Under either method, a proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution if it is ratified by three-fourths of the states, through state legislatures or state ratifying conventions, whichever Congress chooses. So far, in all but one instance Congress has specified ratification by state legislatures. The convention route was used to ratify the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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. Several US States have held multiple conventions over the years to change their particular state's constitutions.
- Missouri has held four, in 1820, 1865, 1875 and 1945.
- Michigan has held four, in 1835, 1850, 1908 and 1963.
- Massachusetts has held five, in 1778, 1779–80, 1820-21, 1853, and 1917–18.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Constitutional conventions (political meetings).|
- Jost, In K. (2003). "Amending process" (CQ Electronic Library, CQ Encyclopedia of American Government). The Supreme Court A to Z. Washington: CQ Press. Retrieved August 19, 2005.
- Dáil debates Vol.728 No.3 p.5 March 22, 2011
- Law Matters: A Celebration of Two Constitutions by Missouri Chief Justice Michael A. Wolff - Your Missouri Courts - September 9, 2005
- Michigan Constitution of 1835
- 19th Century Michigan History
- 1963 Constitution of the State of Michigan