It was not so long ago that I became aware of the Annapolis Convention of 1786. Though I had started reading the resulting report before I got my pocket Constitution I was very excited to see that it was included there. It was there that I finally sat down and read the report through. I found it interesting that the major theme of the convention proceedings was that a Constitutional Convention should be called precisely because the remedies necessary for the defects in the Articles of Confederation exceeded the scope of authority that had been granted to the delegations from the states that attended the Annapolis Convention (5 state delegations were at the convention, 4 more had been commissioned but were not at the convention, and the final 4 states had not commissioned delegations for such a convention). With that background it becomes very hard to consider the argument that the members of the Constitutional Convention exceeded the bounds of their authority. Having had this report published I would think that every state would have sent delegations to the Constitutional Convention with fairly open-ended authority.
Sometime after reading these proceedings I began to wonder what might come out of a similar convention today. Of course the delegations to the Annapolis Convention were charged with addressing a specific issue (the regulation of commerce) and found that no viable solution was forthcoming which would not affect many other issues as well. I do not imagine a convention charged wtih fixing an issue, only one charged with studying our government and comparing what our government is doing with what was written in the original Constitution, what is written in the succeeding ammendments, and poosibly providing their perspective on where our practices are improvements from what is written and where they should be brought into conformity with our established Constitution.
Because all three branches of government would be under review, the delegations should not include those who are currently holding political office at the federal level (I was at first inclined to think that such a review could be conducted by judges from around the nation). Instead, I think that such a convention should consist of people chosen from the local people from each state – for the sake of variety and balance I would imagine an ideal convention to consist of three Republicans and three Democrats from each state (and probably D.C. as well). Some people might think a convention of 300 participants would be too large to be effective in such an undertaking, but considering that there are over 300 Million people in the country it seems reasonable to have that many representatives. (Besides, it’s still smaller than the House of Representatives.)
Those who argue that the large states are being underrepresented (as some undoubtedly will) should be reminded that the convention would have no power except to study, publish their findings, and possibly make recommendations. I believe that the voters of our nation would be very surprised by the findings of such a convention.