The Constitutional Convention of 1787 was called under the Articles of Confederation that gave state legislators supreme power.
When the U.S. Constitution was created, the structure of our government included a new entity…We the people. The Preamble of the Articles of Confederation starts with “we the undersigned Delegates of the States…” The U.S. Constitutions preamble starts with “We the People…” There’s a marketing scheme where the “Convention of States” Project gives the belief that a convention is controlled by state legislatures. It isn’t, it’s a convention “of the people.” At the time of our founding and before the 17th Amendment, state legislature power resided in U.S. Senators appointed by state legislatures.
Therefore, any reference to “the calling of a convention of the states…” is wrong. The U.S. Constitution makes a distinction between state legislatures and state ratifying conventions. It was intended so amendments may be routed to the people, if state legislatures were not accepting of whatever amendments, to include the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. By referring to it as a “Convention of States” is extremely misleading, the method of dividing state structure between legislatures and the people of that state was used during Prohibition.
With the push of religious special interest groups such as the anti-Saloon League and the temperance movement for women’s suffrage, the U.S. Congress and state legislatures passed the 18th Amendment, Prohibition. While the merits of Prohibition can be debated, the method the U.S. Congress used to repeal Prohibition is important. They knew they could not repeal Prohibition through “state legislatures”. The 21st Amendment and Repeal of Prohibition was ratified through state ratifying conventions to bypass state legislatures.
Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution will you find the reference to “Convention of States”, especially for state legislatures to control a convention. Quite the contrary, Article I, Section 10, para 3 states that “No State Shall, without the Consent of Congress…enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State…” There are other references throughout the Constitution that divide our federal government into levels, not only horizontally (Judicial, Legislative, Executive) but also vertically (federal, states, people). These divisions were intentional.
The “Convention of States Project” is a community organization effort to gin up state applications for a NATIONAL CONVENTION but there is no such thing as a “Convention of States”. When I ask COS members where they can find such a statement (even referring to a convention) in the U.S. Constitution, they normally point to a website or Article V. No one has provided evidence in the U.S. Constitution of a so called “Convention of States”. Therefore, a National Convention would be a more accurate description and the special interest groups of today are pushing for a convention is no different than those pushing for the 18th Amendment in the early 1900s.