Friday, February 9, 2024

The Perils of a Constitutional Convention


The proposition of convening an Article V constitutional convention, as outlined in the United States Constitution, presents an avenue for addressing pressing issues amid societal upheaval or calls for reform. With Article V providing two methods for amending the Constitution—either through Congressional proposal or via a convention initiated by two-thirds of state legislatures—the latter option holds particular intrigue for advocates seeking significant revisions to the nation's foundational principles. Advocates often argue that such a convention offers an opportunity to modernize the Constitution, adapt it to contemporary challenges, and fortify democratic institutions.

However, beneath the surface of this tantalizing prospect lies a landscape fraught with significant risks and potential pitfalls that demand careful consideration. While the allure of enacting sweeping reforms may be compelling, it is important to recognize the inherent dangers associated with convening a constitutional convention. This process entails the gathering of delegates tasked with proposing amendments or even rewriting the nation's constitution—a weighty responsibility that carries profound implications for the stability, legitimacy, and fundamental rights of society.

One primary concern with a constitutional convention is the unpredictable nature of its outcome. Delegates may pursue agendas that diverge significantly from the original intent, potentially resulting in unintended consequences. The risk of radical or extreme proposals gaining traction cannot be overlooked, potentially destabilizing the entire constitutional framework.

Moreover, the threat to established rights looms large. The Constitution serves as a safeguard against the abuse of power and the erosion of individual liberties. Opening up the constitution to revision creates a perilous environment where hard-won rights and protections may be compromised or diluted. Vulnerable minorities or marginalized groups could find themselves at the mercy of majority rule, undermining the very essence of a republican form of government. The Bill of Rights could be stricken in part or in totality, for example.

Another significant concern is the potential for partisan manipulation. In politically polarized environments, a constitutional convention becomes susceptible to partisan agendas. Delegates may prioritize party interests over the common good, leading to gridlock, factionalism, or the entrenchment of special interests. This could further exacerbate existing divisions within society and undermine public trust in the political process.

Lastly, there is the potential for a constitutional crisis. The process of convening a constitutional convention inherently disrupts the status quo and introduces an element of instability into the political landscape. Should disagreements escalate or negotiations falter, there is a real risk of descending into a constitutional crisis with far-reaching ramifications.

Given these considerable risks, proponents of a constitutional convention must proceed with caution and weigh the potential benefits against the potential drawbacks. While the desire for reform and renewal is understandable, it is imperative to prioritize the preservation of fundamental rights. Alternative avenues for constitutional reform, such as incremental amendments or legislative action, may offer a more prudent and measured approach to addressing pressing issues while mitigating the risks associated with a wholesale overhaul of the constitution. Ultimately, the decision to convene a constitutional convention should not be taken lightly, as the consequences could be profound and far-reaching. Only through careful deliberation, inclusive dialogue, and a commitment to upholding democratic principles can the nation navigate the complexities of constitutional reform. Otherwise, we may get more than we bargained for. 



James Parrish Hodges, Ph.D., Author

Winner of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Medal of Honor
Member: National Speakers Association, American Society for Training and Development


Cynthia F. Hodges, JD, LLM, MA
Attorney and Author

Auriga Books, LLC
Email: cyn (at)




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