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Index to the Debates of the Constitutional Convention of Maryland, 1967-1968
Volume 85, Page 4   View pdf image (33K)
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4/Introduction

election, the General Assemblies following both the 1930 and 1950 elections refused
to call a convention. Apportionment of seats in the General Assembly under the
Constitution of 1867 was one of the major grievances against that document, but
alternative plans that might have been incorporated into a new constitution placed
too many existing senatorial and delegate seats at risk. So, the General Assembly
steadfastly refused to call a constitutional convention, much to the dismay of the
growing number of Maryland voters who resided in the underrepresented urban
areas.

By the 1960s the anachronisms of the Constitution of 1867 could no longer be
so blithely ignored. A heightened social consciousness in the public at large, racial
strife, political assassinations, and a rapidly shrinking globe caused by the telecom-
munications revolution, space exploration, and the increasing internationalization
of the economy placed greater demands on government at all levels. Governor J.
Millard Tawes, reflecting the consensus of many of the state's lawyers, judges, legis-
lators, and students of political science, proclaimed bluntly that the hundred-year-
old Constitution of 1867 was "very restrictive to the successful operation of an effi-
cient state government and entirely too clumsy and ineffective as a document of
basic law."2 The next constitutionally mandated poll of the people on calling a con-
stitutional convention was scheduled for 1970, too long to wait in Governor Tawes's
opinion. Tawes sought the advice of Attorney General Thomas B. Finan, who, in an
opinion issued on 9 February 1965, stated that the General Assembly had an in-
herent right to call a constitutional convention on its own authority or, alternatively,
to order a special election to take the sense of the people on the advisability of call-
ing a convention.

Armed with the attorney general's opinion, Tawes recommended to the 1965
session of the General Assembly that it provide for a commission to study the Con-
stitution of 1867 with a view toward recommending changes to that document and
preparing for a constitutional convention. Tawes's recommendations were em-
bodied in a joint resolution creating a constitutional convention commission. The
resolution passed the House of Delegates, but the traditionally more conservative
Senate refused to report it out of committee. Not to be deterred, Governor Tawes by
executive order signed on 16 June 1965 established the Constitutional Convention
Commission, composed of twenty-seven appointed members. The Commission was
charged with the responsibility for studying the Constitution of 1867 "to ascertain if
modification or revision was necessary, whether a constitutional convention should
be held, and to prepare specific recommendations with respect to such revision and
the holding of a constitutional convention."3

With H. Vernon Eney serving as chairman, the Constitutional Convention
Commission first met on 21 July 1965. Over the next 23 months the full Commission
met 25 times, with Commission committees meeting a total of 143 times. The Com-
mission drafted legislation, at the request of Governor Tawes, calling for a special
election at which the people would determine whether a constitutional convention

2 Ibid., p. vii.

3 Letter of transmittal of H. Vernon Eney, chairman of the Constitutional Convention Commission, 26
May 1967, in Interim Report of the Constitutional Convention Commission (Annapolis: Constitutional
Convention Commission, 1967), p. v.



 
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Index to the Debates of the Constitutional Convention of Maryland, 1967-1968
Volume 85, Page 4   View pdf image (33K)
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