I have seen a lot of arguments against the Constitution, and it's Article V process to amend the Constitution. As I have discussed before, denial (or nullification) of Article V by the detractors is essentially an a denial and nullification of the Constitution itself. Article V was included as a part of the original Constitution because the founders knew in fact it would need to be amended over time. They knew amendments were a safer and more civil method of correcting for defects in the plan than others that would surface if amendments were not pursued. The arguments against Article V fall apart upon examination of the events of that day as shown below.
For that and other reasons, amendments by State Conventions were proposed.
Later, Hamilton contended that Congress (The National Legislature) should be given the right to propose amendments. And some wondered if Congress should be the only proposal agent.
Col Mason vehemently disagreed stating that the reason an amendment might be needed could be to restrict Congress itself, and Congress would never limit itself.
So let's take a look at that original sequence of events in the formation of Article V and subsequent papers.
This is a list of “Takeaway points” based on research of the founders from the text in the posts linked below which include the 1787 debates, Federalist 43 and 85, and Jefferson’s letter to Samuel Kercheval:
Summary of Takeaway Points
May 29, 1787 - http://indianaliberty.weebly.com/blog/convention-debates-may-29-1787
- Amendment proposals should not require approval from Congress.
June 11, 1787 - http://indianaliberty.weebly.com/blog/convention-debates-june-11-1787
- Amendments should be provided to correct defects, thus preventing “chance and violence”
- Still under consideration, is “not requiring the approval of Congress”
- With two thirds of the States applying for an amendment, Congress “shall call” for a Convention to propose amendment(s).
- Hamilton notes, as did Col Mason earlier (June 11), that the new Constitution will have defects. None are noted dissenting with this conclusion.
- Hamilton fears the State Legislatures will seek to gain more power.
- Hamilton thinks that Congress, being more perceptive of need for amendments, should also be able to propose amendments. He states this power will not be a problem since they people have the final say.
- We know Hamilton authored one of the plans submitted for consideration, which was referred to as the “British plan” as it closely resembled the British system. There are no states in that system. I view this idea by Hamilton as a move toward Big Government and tyranny.
- Both Congress and the State Legislatures can propose amendments
- Proposals of amendments require a two thirds majority
- Ratification is by the State Legislatures or State Conventions by a three fourths majority.
- There was only one dissenting vote, and one divided vote based on the wording as supplied; otherwise all were yea.
- Col Mason fears Congress is given too much power
- Language requiring Congress to call a Convention is added, enhancing States rights
- A move by Mr. Sherman, caused by frustration on equal suffrage, to drop Article V completely is voted down.
- Language giving the States equal suffrage, ie one State, one vote, giving each State equal power in the Conventions, satisfying Mr. Sherman. This passes uncontested, ensuring equal power among the states.
- Article V was placed in the Constitution to correct for errors, present and future.
- Amendments would provide the middle ground between changes made too easy, and a Constitution essentially written in stone.
- Three fourths of the States are required for ratification.
- Proposals can be made by the States or Congress.
- There are supposed defects, like a Bill of Rights, freedom of the press, etc.
- “though it may not be perfect in every part, is, upon the whole, a good one”
- Amendments to fix errors (seen and unseen) will be easier after ratification than before.
- Amendments can be done at any time.
- Each amendment is a single proposition, and might be brought individually
- Some think that the National Government will not want to give up power once possessed. Hamilton disagrees.
- Congress is “obliged” to call a Convention on the application by two thirds of the States for amendment(s).
- 'The words of this article are peremptory. The Congress "shall call a convention.'' Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body'
- Uniting the States in two thirds and three fourths will not be hard with the right amendments.
- “We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.” [if they do their job]
- Governing a large state is beyond the ability of the individual human mind.
- The plan, along with Article V, “guard against hazarding anarchy, civil war, a perpetual alienation of the States from each other, and perhaps the military despotism of a victorious demagogue, in the pursuit of what they are not likely to obtain”
- Forty years after ratification, Jefferson fully believed that amendments are needed to adjust for imperfections in the Constitution and to adjust to changes in civilization, technology, etc.
- The Constitution is not like the “the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched.”
- Nor is it true that “the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.”