The critical importance of the amendment power

Why didn’t they just fix the Articles of Confederation?  Why did they have to start from scratch?

Rhode Island.  This postage stamp sized state was so jealous of its sovereignty, (which, according to some of the Framers, allowed it to pursue pernicious ends) that it would agree to nothing.  Under the terms of the Articles, amendments must be unanimous among all thirteen states.  A fatal flaw.

The way Rhode Islanders saw it, that was not a bug, but a feature.  It gave them veto power over the other twelve states.  And they weren’t going to let go of it, for any reason.

Rhode Island prevented the Articles from being amended, and forced the other states to start over, with new rules for amendment, which would require supermajorities, but not unanimity.

This is why Rhode Island was the only state that didn’t even bother to send a delegation to Philadelphia.

The Constitution was drafted to deal with the Rhode Island problem, and this is why the provisions of Article V were so important.  And it’s why it’s so important to fix the technical defect of Article V: its failure to make clear that the states could meet with a simple quorum in order to consider an amendment.

The Framers understood all this.  Have we become so dim witted that we can’t?

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