modest proposal/patriotism thread
SLevinson at law.utexas.edu
Sat Jan 28 18:46:17 PST 2006
I mean the question fully seriously. Imagine that an Article V constitutional convention is in fact called because 34 states petition for one. Does the Constitution give the slightest clue as to what the voting rule should be in such a convention? Philadelphia is a dubious precedent in part because most people are willing are willing to concede that in some real sense the states (that showed up) were "sovereign" equals. But there is no reason to take such a notion seriously today. Imagine also that the bulk of the 34 states calling for the convention were the larger states. They would have no incentive in the world to adopt a one-state/one-vote rule. Then there is the question of whether the proposals of a convention would have to ratified through Article V or whether it, like the Philadelphia precedent, could "runaway" and say that a national referendum would be good enough. I'm with Akhil Amar, that there is nothing in principle to prohibit such a method, whatever Article V might suggest. I'm assuming that any such convention would be called because a significant majority of the American people (and, of course, elites) accepted the argument that we have a perhaps dangerously dysfunctional constitutional system that demands revision. Under those circumstances, I think that the small states would properly lose their veto power over necessary change.
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of William D Rich
Sent: Sat 1/28/2006 5:01 PM
To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: RE: modest proposal/patriotism thread
At 12:25 PM 1/28/2006, Sanford Levinson wrote:
Even if we retained a federal system, which I strongly suspect we would, would we really give the small states the extraordinary representation they enjoy in the Senate and the electoral college, for starters.
At the risk of taking the question more seriously than it was intended, isn't the answer clearly yes unless (1) the states were represented (and had voting power) in the convention (roughly) in proportion to population; and (2) the proposed new constitution were not subject to the Article V ratification process, but rather to a new ratification process that allocates power more or less according to population?
Univ. of Akron
rich at uakron.edu
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