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Appendix B:

Definitions of Terms

Amendments convention - a common synonym for convention for proposing amendments, which is the official name given to the gathering by the Constitution.

Application - the legislative resolution whereby a state legislature tells Congress that if it receives applications on the same subject from two-thirds of the state legislatures (34 of 50), Congress must call a convention for proposing amendments on the subject.

Article V convention - a common synonym for convention for proposing amendments, which is the official name the Constitution gives to that gathering.

Commissioner - the formal title of a delegate to a convention for proposing amendments, so named from his or her empowering commission.

Committee - a state's delegation to a convention for proposing amendments.

Constitutional convention - a convention charged with writing an entirely new Constitution; a kind of plenipotentiary convention.

Convention - originally just a synonym for “meeting.” As used by the Founders and in the Constitution itself, convention means a legal assembly that pinch-hits for a legislature in performing designated tasks.

Convention for proposing amendments - a convention of representatives of the state legislatures meeting to propose one or more amendments on one or more subjects specified in the state legislative applications and (derivatively) in the congressional call. A convention for proposing amendments is a limited convention serving as an ad hoc substitute for Congress proposing amendments.

Interstate convention - a generic term referring to any convention of delegates representing three or more states or state legislatures. There were numerous interstate conventions held between 1776 and 1787, which in turn were preceded by several inter-colonial conventions.

Plenipotentiary convention - A Founding Era term borrowed from international diplomatic practice. It refers to a convention where the commissioners have unlimited or nearly unlimited power to represent their respective sovereignties. The First Continental Congress was a plenipotentiary convention. As to most of the commissioners, the 1787 Constitutional Convention was close to plenipotentiary. Most interstate conventions, however, have been more restricted.

Propose - In Article V of the Constitution, propose can mean either (1) the power of Congress or of a convention for proposing amendments to validly tender a suggested amendment to the states for ratification or rejection, or (2) the power of Congress to designate whether proposed amendments will be sent to the state legislatures or to state conventions for ratification.

Ratify, ratification - In Article V of the Constitution, ratification refers to the process by which state legislatures or state conventions convert a proposed amendment into a legally effective part of the Constitution. Approval by three-fourths of the states (38 of 50) is necessary for ratification.

clips/definition_of_terms.txt · Last modified: 2021/02/23 16:14 by