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preside at the same. And in all elections, and in making, receiving, and examining returns, and in conducting the whole business of organizing and establishing the said General Court, the same rules are to be observed, that are prescribed in the form of government for making such elections, and for the constituting the first General Court; saving only the difference of time.1
And be it further resolved, That Samuel Barrett, Esq. (secretary to this convention), do, on or before the fifteenth day of July next, cause printed copies of this resolution to be sent to the selectmen of the several towns, and the assessors of the several plantations aforesaid, who are respectively to perform the duties required by this resolution, and to make seasonable and regular returns of the persons elected to the several offices herein mentioned, into the secretary's office of this State, agreeably to the rules contained in the form of government above referred to. In the name, and pursuant to a resolution of the convention.
James BowDOIN, President. Attest, SAMUEL BARRETT, Secretary.
16. 186, 187.
No steps were taken in 1795 towards revising the Constitution of Massachusetts under Part II. c. 6, art. 10, the only provision made for that purpose in the instrument. Nevertheless, in 1820, the legislature passed an Act submitting to the electors the question whether it was expedient to hold a convention for " revising or altering” the Constitution, and providing, in case of an affirmative vote, for the subsequent elec. tion of delegates and the holding of the convention. In accordance with this law, a convention met in 1820, and fourteen amendments were submitted to the people (i. e., electors), of which nine were adopted. The last of these, Art. IX., will be found below, in the Appendix to Part I. p. 399, n.
In 1853, another convention was called for the same purpose and in the same manner as that of 1820. It submitted to the people a new draft of the Constitution; this was rejected.
As regards the now prevalent mode of amending, by means of a legislative proposal submitted to the people, — adopted in the ninth Massachusetts Amendment, — the origin of it is traced to the Articles of Confederation, Art. XIII., requiring that any alteration should be “agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.” And so the Constitution of the United States, Art. V., provided for amendments through a legislative proposal ratified by the States. As among State constitutions, Connecticut seems to have been the first to introduce it. An intelligent and accurate French writer has said: “La procédure inaugurée au Massachusetts [II. c. 6, 10) était bonne pour une révision totale, mais cette occurrence était rare et, dans les cas de plus en plus fréquents où l'on désirait une révision partielle, ne comportant parfois qu'un seul amendement, l'élection d'une convention, après consultation préalable du peuple, était un moyen coûteux, encombrant, et susceptible de provoquer une agitation inutile. Il appartenait à un autre État de la NouvelleAngleterre de donner sa formule à la méthode qui devait répondre à cette nécessité nouvelle et prévaloir également peu à peu dans l'Union.
En 1818, lorsque l antique charte du Connecticut, dépassée par le progrès de cette démocratie dont elle avait elle-même frayé le chemin, fut remplacée par la Constitution
1 For the property qualifications of the electors under the new Constitution, see Const. Mass. Part II. c. 1, $ 2, art. 2, and § 3, art. 4; and c. 2, § 1, art. 3. — ED.
actuelle, la convention d'Hartford, avant de soumettre son æuvre au peuple, y inséra l'article suivant:
Art. II. - Lorsque la chambre des représentants jugera nécessaire d'apporter des amendements ou des modifications à cette Constitution, la majorité pourra en faire la proposition. Les amendements projetés seront renvoyés à la prochaine assemblée générale et publiés avec les lois qui pourront avoir été faites pendant la session. Si, par an vote de division provoqué au cours de la session suivante, les deux tiers des membres de chaque chambre approuvent les dits amendements, ils seront transmis par le chancelier aux secrétaires municipaux (town clerks) de chacunes des communes de l'État.
“Ces derniers auront à les soumettre aux habitants, pour être examinés, dans un town meeting légalement convoqué et tenu à cet effet. S'il résulte de cette consultation, dont la loi déterminera les formes, que ces amendements ont été sanctiounés par la majorité des électeurs présents, ils deviendront exécutoires comme partie intégrante de cette Constitution.'
"Cet article était le résultat d'une transaction heureuse entre le système du Massachusetts et un autre, celui qu'avait consacré, en 1776, la Constitution du Maryland et qu'avait adopté la Caroline méridionale, en 1790, et la Géorgie en 1798. Dans ces États, un vote des deux chambres, répété après une élection générale, était la condition requise pour l'adoption d'un ou de plusieurs amendements constitutionnels. Cette procédure facilitait, dans une certaine mesure, la révision partielle. La convention d'Hartford en fit son profit, mais sans abandonner le principe que le peuple doit avoir de dernier mot. Dans la disposition qu'elle rédigea, les députés à la législature reçurent le droit d'initiative, exercé à la majorité des deux tiers, ce qui était la clause insé. rée en 1787 dans la ('onstitution Fédérale, et les town meetings conservèrent la décision, conformément aux traditions de la Nouvelle-Angleterre.
“L'article passa presque aussitôt dans la Constitution du Maine, vaste district du Massachusetts, dont on faisait un nouvel État. La Convention de Portland, qui élabora cette Constitution, en 1819, était animée d'un esprit très démocratique. En s'assimilant l'article créé par la Convention d'Hartford, elle y apporta, d'emblée, une modification qui ne devait être imitée que beaucoup plus tard dans les autres États. Elle y supprima la condition de la double épreuve pour l'exercice du droit d'initiative. L'adoption par une seule législature, à la majorité des deux tiers des membres dans les deux chambres, lui paraissait suffisante pour qu’un amendement pût être soumis au peuple."
Annales de l'École Libre des Sciences Politiques (1893); L'Établissement et la Révision des Constitutions aux États-Unis d'Amérique, by Charles Borgeaud.
Jameson's note on this subject (Const. Conv. (4th ed.) $ 574 d, note) is not entirely accurate. - ED.
OPINION OF THE JUSTICES.
THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MASSACHU
[6 Cush. 573.] The justices of the Supreme Judicial Court have taken into consideration the two questions submitted to them [by the House of Representatives), and upon which the honorable House bas requested their opinion, of the following tenor, namely:
First. Whether, if the legislature should submit to the people to vote upon the expediency of having a convention of delegates of the people,
for the purpose of revising or altering the Constitution of the Commonwealth in any specified parts of the same; and a majority of the people voting thereon should decide in favor thereof, could such convention holden in pursuance thereof act upon, and propose to the people, amendments in other parts of the Constitution not so specified ?
Second. Can any specific and particular amendment or amendments to the Constitution be made in any other manner than that prescribed in the ninth article of the amendments adopted in 1820 ?
And thereupon have the honor to submit the following opinion:
The court do not understand that it was the intention of the House of Representatives to request their opinion upon the natural right of the people in cases of great emergency, or upon the obvious failure of their existing Constitution to accomplish the objects for which it was designed, to provide for the amendment or alteration of their fundamental laws; nor what would be the effect of any change and alteration of their Constitution, made under such circumstances and sanctioned by the assent of the people. Such a view of the subject would involve the general question of natural rights, and the inherent and fundamental principles upon which civil society is founded, rather than any question upon the nature, construction, or operation of the existing Constitution of the Commonwealth, and the laws made under it. We presume, therefore, that the opinion requested applies to the existing Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth, and the rights and powers derived from and under them. Considering the questions in this light, we are of opinion, taking the second question first, that, under and pursuant to the existing Constitution, there is no authority given by any reasonable construction or necessary implication, by which any specific and particular amendment or amendments of the Constitution can be made, in any other manner than that prescribed in the ninth article of the amendments adopted in 1820. Considering that previous to 1820 no mode was provided by the Constitution for its own amendment, that no other power for that purpose, than in the mode alluded to, is anywhere given in the Constitution, by implication or otherwise, and that the mode thereby provided appears manifestly to have been carefully considered, and the power of altering the Constitution thereby conferred to have been cautiously restrained and guarded, we think a strong implication arises against the existence of any other power, under the Constitution, for the same purposes.
Upon the first question, considering that the Constitution has vested no authority in the legislature, in its ordinary action, to provide by law for submitting to the people the expediency of calling a convention of delegates, for the purpose of revising or altering the Constitution of the Commonwealth, it is difficult to give an opinion upon the question, what would be the power of such a convention, if called. If, however, the people should, by the terms of their vote, decide to call a convention of delegates to consider the expediency of altering the Constitution in some particular part thereof, we are of opinion that such delegates would
derive their whole authority and commission from such vote ; and, upon the general principles governing the delegation of power and authority, they would have no right, under such vote, to act upon and propose amendments in other parts of the Constitution not so specified.
S. S. WILDE,
IN RE THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.
THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF RHODE ISLAND. 1883.
[14 R. I. 649.) ARTICLE 13 of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island is as follows:
“The General Assembly may propose amendments to this Constitution by the votes of a majority of all the members elected to each House. Such propositions for amendment shall be published in the newspapers, and printed copies of them shall be sent by the Secretary of State, with the names of all the members who shall have voted thereon, with the yeas and nays, to all the town and city clerks in the State. The said propositions shall be, by said clerks, inserted in the warrants or notices by them issued for warning the next annual town and ward meetings in April ; and the clerks shall read said propositions to the electors when thus assembled, with the names of all the representatives and senators who shall have voted thereon, with the yeas and nays, before the election of senators and representatives shall be had. If a majority of all the members elected to each House, at said annual meeting, shall approve any proposition thus made, the same shall be published and submitted to the electors in the mode provided in the Act of approval; and if then approved by three fifths of the electors of the State present and voting thereon in town and ward meetings, it shall become a part of the Constitution of the State.”
Article 10, section 3, provides, that “the judges of the Supreme Court shall ... give their written opinion upon any question of law whenever requested ... by either House of the General Assembly.”
March 20, 1883, the Senate of the State adopted the following resolution :
“ Whereas, a difference of opinion has arisen among members of the General Assembly,
“ I. As to the legal competency thereof under the Constitution of the State to call upon the electors to elect members to constitute a convention to frame a new Constitution of the State, and to provide that the new Constitution should be submitted for adoption, either to the qualified electors of the State, or to the persons who would be entitled
to vote under said new Constitution, for adoption, and if a majority of such electors or persons voting should vote in favor thereof, whether the new Constitution would then become the legally adopted Constitution of the State and be binding as such upon all of the people thereof.
“ II. As to whether it is legally competent for the General Assembly to submit to the qualified electors the question whether said electors will call a convention to frame a new Constitution, and to provide by law if a majority of the electors voting upon said question shall vote in favor of calling such convention, that the same be held, and the new Constitution framed by said convention be submitted to the electors for their adoption, either to the electors qualified by law, or to the persons who may be qualified to vote under such new Constitution, and whether if a majority of the electors, or persons voting thereon, vote for the adoption of such Constitution, whether the Constitution so to be framed and adopted would be the legal Constitution of the State, and as such be binding upon all the people thereof.
“And whereas, the existing Constitution provides that either House of the General Assembly may require the opinion of the judges of the Supreme Court upon any question of law, it is therefore hereby
Resolved, that the said judges of the said Supreme Court be, and they hereby are requested without unnecessary delay to give their opinion to the Senate upon the two questions stated in the preamble hereto, upon which differences of opinion have arisen between the members of this General Assembly.
“Resolved, that his Excellency the Governor be, and he hereby is, requested to forward copies of the preceding preamble and resolution to each of the judges of the said Supreme Court.”
OPL ON OF THE COURT.1
1883. To the Honorable the Senate of the State of Rhode Island and
Providence Plantations : We received from your Honors on the 24th inst. a resolution requesting our opinion in regard to the legal competency of the General Assembly to call a convention for the revision of the Constitution. In reply we have to say that we are of opinion that the mode provided in the Constitution for the amendment the of is the only mode in which it can be constitutionally amended. ordinary rule is that where power is given to do a thing in a particular way, there the affirmative words, marking out the particular way, proliibit all other ways by implication, so that the particular way is the only way in which the power can be legally executed. The rule was recently recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States in Smith v. Stevens, 10 Wall. 321. There by Act of Congress, lands were ceded to Indians with power
1 See Taylor v. Place, ante, 180 n.