Monday, June 16, 2014

The Post Constitutional Era! Part XXIII

Article 5 – Amendments

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

"The Constitution can be amended, or changed. The Constitution provides two ways in which it can be amended. First, Congress can propose amendments when 2/3rds of both houses agree. Secondly, when 2/3rds of the state legislatures apply for a convention call, Congress must call a convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution. Proposed amendments must be ratified by 3/4ths of the states in order to be ratified and become part of the Constitution. No amendment banning the slave trade would be allowed until after 1808. The Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution were ratified following this procedure."

Notes for this article:

“Note the following small detail: the President is not a part of the amendment process. So what difference does it make when the President says that he or she does not like a particular proposed amendment, and they will not support it? None. At least, not technically.

Now, obviously, the world is not sterile, particularly in Washington. When a President expresses reservations or dislike of an amendment or proposed amendment, it is obvious that any President worth electing knows darn well that the Executive has no veto over any amendment. The process is left completely in the hands of the Congress and/or the States. However, the President, as presumed head of a political party, has power over those in the same party -or, if not power, at least some influence……””


“Amending the United States Constitution is no small task. This page will detail the amendment procedure as spelled out in the Constitution, and will also list some of the Amendments that have not been passed, as well as give a list of some amendments proposed in Congress during several of the past sessions……”


“The Constitution provides for the amendment of the Constitution by various means (see The Amendments Page for details). However an amendment is proposed, it does not become part of the Constitution unless it is ratified by three-quarters of the states (either the legislatures thereof, or in amendment conventions). The following is a record of each ratified amendment and the states and dates that led to the ratification. The Constitutional Timeline and the Ratification Grid may also be of interest…...

There is some disagreement about the ability of a state to rescind an amendment ratification prior to full ratification. In U.S. history, thus far, no rescinded ratifications have made a difference in the long run, though they certainly have happened, especially to the Reconstruction Amendments, 13 through 15. ……Quick links: Bill of Rights, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th.  The first ten amendments, commonly known as a group as the Bill of Rights, were all ratified at once. The amendments were proposed on September 25, 1789.


“The only time that conventions have been used was in the case of the 21st Amendment, which overturned the 18th Amendment. The 18th abolished alcohol manufacture or sales on a national scale. The 21st repealed the 18th, stating instead that each state shall have the ability to set its own laws regarding liquor. The text of the 21st specifically stated that it would have to be ratified by conventions held in each state:

3. The article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Why specify conventions over legislatures, as every other amendment had been ratified up to then? The thought was that the people of the conventions, which would typically be average citizens, would be less likely to bow to political pressure to reject the amendment than elected officials would be. Note that the Supreme Court has ruled that a popular referendum is not a substitute for either the legislature nor a convention, nor can a referendum approve of or disapprove of the legislature's or a convention's decision on an amendment……”

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