- Alternative meaning: Constitutional convention (political custom)
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. In the case of the Philadelphia Convention
, delegates met for the "sole purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation
." George Washington
was elected president of this convention. Once the body convened, meeting and deliberations were conducted in secrecy with James Madison
serving as recorder. It was rapidly decided that the body would ignore the limitations of its call and propose the replacement of the Articles with an entirely new basic instrument of government.
Examples of constitutional conventions include the:
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. Though the several states have never held a national constitutional convention for the purpose of prosing amendments, the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified not by the state legislatures, but by state level conventions after it was passed by Congress, as described as an alternate method of ratification in Article V of the US Constitution.