Why 1787 Was a Runaway Convention

The Annapolis Convention of 1786 issued a call for a convention with delegates from all 13 states to devise changes in the Articles of Confederation (AoC) that would need to be agreed to by Congress and be “afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every state” as required by Article XIII of the AoC. Early in 1787 Congress issued a similar call for a convention with the same ratification requirement, and nine of the twelve states that sent delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 also included the Article XIII ratification requirement. However, the “runaway” 1787 Convention replaced the AoC ratification procedure with its Article VII.

False Claims of Convention Promoters

Article V convention promoters make many false claims. For example, they complain loudly if you refer to an Article V convention as a constitutional convention. They insist that everyone refer to an Article V convention as a convention of the states or an amendments convention. However, the widely used Black’s Law Dictionary defines “constitutional convention” in a way that clearly includes an Article V convention. Some editions even go on to explicitly mention an Article V convention as an example of a constitutional convention.

Convention promoters also say the Article V convention is for reining in Big Government; however, the Founders said it was only for amending errors in the Constitution.

Even More False Claims

Soon after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in early 2016, the Convention of States Project (COS) began to deceptively claim him as an endorser of their initiative to bring about an Article V convention. They used a 1979 quote from Scalia in which he endorsed holding a constitutional convention, meaning from the context an Article V convention, but didn’t tell the reader what year the quote was from.

The other deceptive aspect of claiming Scalia as an endorser is that COS also did not quote Scalia’s very recent remarks in which he vigorously opposed a constitutional convention, such as his statement in 2014: “I certainly would not want a Constitutional Convention. I mean whoa. Who knows what would come out of that?”

John Birch Society

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