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ology as well as in the general methods of procedure employed, the Michigan convention of 1907-08 deserves brief discussion. Proposals introduced by members were read and referred to the appropriate committee; when reported by the committee they were taken up in committee of the whole, and when reported upon by the committee of the whole were referred to the committee on arrangement and phraseology. The proposal when reported upon by this committee was put upon its second reading, and after second reading was voted upon. If adopted it was again referred to the committee on arrangement and phraseology, which, after all proposals had been so considered, reported the complete revision as agreed upon, the convention taking a twelve-day recess in order to give time for this work. This revision was then considered by sections in the committee of the whole, was reported to the convention, and was then put upon third reading and voted upon by articles and as a whole. This procedure gave four different opportunities for the discussion and amendment of every proposal. But more important, it gave the committee on arrangement and phraseology great influence by allowing it an opportunity to revise the language of each proposal after it was agreed to in committee of the whole and before it was definitely adopted; proposals so revised came again to this committee to be consolidated into a complete constitution. As a result of this care the Michigan constitution of 1908 is the best drafted of recent state constitutions.
A somewhat similar use of its committee on arrangement and phraseology was made by the Ohio convention in 1912. The consideration upon second reading was primarily upon the substance, and thereafter the proposal went to the committee on arrangement and phraseology, and after the report of this committee it was presented for final action. The Ohio committee presented its reports in such a manner that each member of the convention had before him the original form of proposal adopted by the convention, the changes recommended by the committee and the proposal as it would read if such recommendations were adopted.
'Letter from Prof. G. W. Knight, of Ohio State University. In the Illinois convention of 1869-70 the committee on revision and adjustment was primarily an editorial
Submission of Convention's Work to a Popular Vote
It lies in the discretion of a convention ordinarily as to whether its work shall be submitted: (1) in the form of separate amendments to an existing constitution; (2) as a complete new constitution; or, (3) as a new constitution, but with separate provisions which may be voted upon independently. The submission of a number of separate amendments to an existing constitution is apt to result in confusion, and although this plan has been employed in several cases, it has usually been thought better to submit a complete new constitution, when the proposed changes are numerous and important. The New York convention of 1894 adopted thirty-one changes in the existing constitution, but submitted a revised constitution, together with two separate propositions. The Ohio convention of 1912 submitted to the people forty-two separate propositions. The plan of submitting a complete new constitution but also at the same time distinct propositions to be voted upon separately, is one frequently employed. The Illinois convention of 1870 submitted eight propositions to the people, beside the question as to whether they approved the proposed new constitution. The plan adopted in Illinois in 1870 seems the more desirable one. Where pro
posed changes are numerous the bulk of them can best be submitted in a revised constitution, and issues of special importance can readily be submitted so that they may be voted upon separately. In any cases it should be within the power of a convention to determine in what form its work shall be submitted. The Michigan convention of 1907-08 was influenced against the submission of separate propositions, because specific arrangements as to the form of submission had been made by legislative act; and in some states (as in Missouri) a convention is apparently required to submit a revised constitution.
In connection with the vote upon the work of a convention, the most important question is that of bringing the proposals of committee. Of recent conventions, those of Michigan (1907--08) and Ohio (1912) had the most satisfactory rules. The rules of the New York convention of 1894 should also be referred to, but they were based too much upon partisan considerations. For the Michigan convention, see an article by Prof. J. A. Fairlie in Michigan Law Review, vi, 533. For Ohio, see comments in Ohio Legislative History, 1909–13, PP. 424, 436.
the convention properly to the attention of the people. Conventions have usually issued an address pointing out the main features of their work, and have provided for the printing of a large number of copies of the proposed constitution, but this is not sufficient.
The legislative act calling the Michigan convention of 190708 provided that:
The convention shall before its adjournment prepare and adopt an address to the people of the state, explaining the proposed changes. in the present constitution, the reasons for each change and such other matters as to the convention may seem advisable. Not less than three hundred thousand copies of this address, in pamphlet form, containing the full text of the revised constitution, shall be printed and distributed as the convention shall direct. The board of state auditors is hereby authorized to publish the above address, together with the full text of the revised constitution, in one newspaper in each county in the state having one. . . . choosing for this purpose in each county one of the newspapers having the largest circulation.
The address prepared by the convention was distributed through the post-offices to the body of the voters of the state. The Michigan address contained a careful note to each section of the constitution, indicating the reasons for a change where one had been made, and enabled the voter to cast an intelligent ballot. A somewhat similar plan was adopted in Ohio, and to each proposed amendment was appended an explanatory statement. In some cases the Ohio explanations were not entirely impartial. A careful explanation of each proposal, adopted by the convention, is of value in informing the people of the work of the convention, but it should also be of importance in preventing future litigation in the courts as to the meaning of proposals which may become part of the constitution. In Ohio the address of the convention (with the text of proposed amendments) was sent as a newspaper supplement to all newspapers that would use it, and advertising (together with a facsimile of the ballot) was inserted in two newspapers in each county. When the work of a convention is submitted, it would be desirable to have mailed to each voter the text of proposals, together with explanations. For a populous state this would be expensive, but the expense would justify itself.
Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, Columbia University
HE practice of periodic revisions of a constitution implies
a conviction that changes in conditions and in opinion require corresponding changes in the instruments of government. This indicates the attitude of mind in which the framing of a new constitution should be approached. The antiquity of any existing constitutional provisions gives reason for scrutiny rather than for reverence. The absence of a long history for any governmental arrangement affords no argument against its desirability. From this general standpoint, let us consider the problem before the coming constitutional convention with regard to the composition of the electorate.
The convention derives its legal authority from the existing electorate. It presents to them only proposals. The electorate is the legal sovereign body. But an electorate which does not include all persons subject to government may be regarded also as an organ of government as the legislature and the executive are organs of government. It acts for others, not merely for itself. To present to the consideration of an electorate a proposal to share its power with others resembles in some fashion a request to an autocrat to surrender his autocracy. Such a request is hard to a Romanoff. But the suggestion that the existing electorate of New York may view with like mind the question of enfranchising woman seems at once absurd-which is greatly to its credit. Yet the electorate might well ask itself how it came to have this power of decision. Explanations have been given which are reminders of the theory of divine right. Disguised survivals of this generally discarded notion are by no means infrequent. It is well to bear in mind that any governmental mechanism is a human contrivance, subject to such
'Read at the meeting of the Academy of Political Science, November 20, 1914.
alteration as human judgment dictates. Those who through the chance of history are vested with power to determine the composition of the electorate may be aided in reaching a wise decision by putting themselves in the mental attitude of one who is called upon to construct for the first time a government of a community of which he is not a member. Our minds would be more untrammeled in considering the problem if we assume a situation in which all the governed are asked to select an electorate, and ask ourselves whether under such circumstances it would be rational to make discriminations solely on the basis of sex.
The convention should find it comparatively simple to view its tasks objectively. Before deciding to submit a proposal, it need not be convinced that the proposal should be adopted at the polls. But it would be folly to burden the electorate with every proposal that any one might suggest. The convention must therefore give thought to the importance of the problem of qualifications for voting and must weigh the relative merits of opposing points of view.
No argument is needed to establish that the composition of the electorate is a matter of vital importance to government and to society. If important for no other reason, it is important because people think it so. It is interwoven with long-cherished ideals of government. And in the light of such ideals it invites our consideration.
Among the general statements which meet with wide acceptance is the assertion that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. This is not a statement of an historical fact. It is a statement of a conceived ideal. But it is a statement of an ideal that few are heard to deny. There are fine-spun theories about consent which insist that some one else knows my desires better than I can know them myself, as there were fine-spun theories about representation, when the Declaration of Independence made reference to the consent of the governed. But we seldom hear it baldly stated that the highest ideal of government is one which subjects one-half of the adult population to a coercion in whose formation and direction they have no personal share.