Thursday, May 23, 2013

Article V - Amendment

Article V of the Constitution deals with amending the document.  The authors knew they had a very good product, but certainly not a perfect one, and they knew there needed to be a system for changing, or amending, the Constitution as times, conditions and the country itself changed.  Article V is very short and simple, but the process for amendment is not so much complex as it is difficult to accomplish.

In short, the Constitution may be amended in two ways: the usual way is for two-thirds of each legislative branch to vote in favor of the amendment and then have it ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures; or, the states themselves may call for a Constitutional Convention.  Every amendment but one (so far) has been passed by the first method, and no convention has been called to propose an amendment since the ratification of the Constitution. The convention method has only been used once to ratify an amendment (the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th).  However, the convention system is still in place, no doubt as a safeguard against too much centralized power in the federal government.

For a discussion on the merits of amending the Constitution (or not), see my previous blog entry:

And for a discussion of just how amazing our Constitution is, since it has only been amended 27 times, see:

So, not to re-hash what I've written before, but the fact that a document that is more than 220 years old has only been amended 27 times is quite remarkable.  Madison and his fellow Founders did an amazing job writing this durable, enduring work.

Not all amendments that are proposed are passed by Congress (more than 11,000 proposals to amend the Constitution have been introduced into Congress).  And not all that are passed by Congress are ratified by the states (six have been approved by Congress, but the requisite number of states have not approved).

Next: Article VI - Debts, Supremacy and Oaths

No comments:

Post a Comment