“Does the World Really Belong to the Living? The Decline of the Constitutional Convention in New York and Other US States, 1776–2015”

J.H. Snider has written this article for American Political Thought. Here is the abstract:

In the preamble to the US Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that people have an “unalienable” right “to alter” their government. A total of 37 US states would eventually include in their state constitutions a similar provision promising the people the right at all times to alter or reform their government. Jefferson would later also argue that people should have a right to alter their constitution at periodic intervals. Eventually, 14 states, including New York, would adopt a constitutional provision implementing such a right. The distinctive democratic function of that right—except in states with the constitutional initiative—is that it allows the people to bypass the legislature’s gatekeeping power over constitutional reform. This article explains the long-term structural forces leading to increased opposition to calling a state constitutional convention. Some of these forces signal democratic dysfunction and should be cause for alarm.

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