Model Constitutional Convention
with, for, and by students.
"Each generation is as independent as the one preceding…a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most productive of its own happiness…a solemn opportunity of doing this every 19 or 20 years, should be provided in the constitution, so that it may be handed on, with periodic repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time, if anything human can so long endure."
MARCH 13-14, 2020
YOUR VOICE COUNTS!
You will use the ordinary rules of the parliamentary procedure to develop, propose, debate, and vote upon language to amend the constitution. Amendments that are passed at this convention will be sent to Wisconsin's members of Congress in Washington D.C.
Talk to your advisor about earning an Independent Study Credit!
*Student support available
Preparing for the Model Constitutional Convention
Some of your time will be spent in session: a legally recognized format in which delegates can make motions which shall be considered by the convention, and when approved become action. To pass an amendment, you will need to form a coalition of delegates to garner a majority vote from the convention. Near the beginning of the convention, the chair will accept motions to establish committees with the task of drafting and reporting back to the convention on specific amendments. If that committee is to be established, you must secure a majority vote from the convention, and that proposed amendment will be competing with motions from other delegates.
The Model Constitutional Convention is a fun and emersive way to take part in a caucus experience, focus special attention on civil liberties, and discuss current national and global issues. Your work here is important and significant: amendments that are passed at this convention will be sent to Wisconsin's members of Congress in Washington D.C.
The following questions may also help you as you prepare for the Convention:
- What is the problem to be remedied by an amendment to the Constitution? Does this problem require an amendment to the constitution, or could it be remedied by ordinary legislation?
- Why has that problem developed? Has the problem developed because of changes in technology, demographics, the environment, or some other thing?
- Is the amendment designed to overturn a Supreme Court case? What future problems might the Constitution face? Does your amendment anticipate those problems?
- Who would benefit from the amendment and who would perceive the amendment as harming their interests? Who is benefited by the status quo?
- What are the political norms – such as equality – which motivate your amendment? In presenting your amendment to the public, will you be able to articulate those norms persuasively?
- What additional language to the constitution will remedy the problem identified? In developing this language, you might consider which institutions will interpret or implement that language. Will those institutions interpret your language in the way that you would like, or might they interpret it differently, or even contrary to how you want it to be interpreted? Amending language might even alter the way the United States interacts with other nations; how will the leadership of other countries interpret the amendment?
- Can you develop a coalition of delegates which will form a majority in favor of the proposed amendment?
*Examining the history of the success or failure of previous attempts at amending the Constitution will give you a sense of what has worked in the past and what might or might not work now.