Two Methods For Proposing An Amendment
It was nearly impossible to amend the Articles of Confederation. Therefore, when the US Constitution was drafted, the Constitutional Convention included a more viable method for proposing an amendment. This was known as Article 5 of the Constitution.
Article V of the Constitution states that an amendment to the Constitution can only happen in one of two ways. The first method is Congress, while the second is from the state legislatures.
Method 1: Amendment Constitution Through Congress
The more popular of the two methods is by acquiring a two-thirds majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress can then propose an amendment to the Constitution. The number of votes from either party is irrelevant so long as the total votes of both houses make up a two-thirds majority.
Once the proposed amendment has been successfully passed, it goes to the states for ratification, whereby 38 out of the 50 states must agree. After the 38th state officially agrees to the amendment’s ratification, the amendment is immediately active even without congressional officiation by Congress.
This is the usual method of proposing an amendment. It has been the case for all 33 submissions to the Constitution.
Method 2: The State Legislatures Propose and Amendment
A second method of proposing an amendment to the Constitution is for two-thirds of the State legislatures to call for a Constitutional Convention. At this convention, legislatures propose amendments that, once agreed upon, are sent to the states for the ratification process.
Despite being an officially recognized method for proposing an amendment, establishing a Constitutional Convention through the State Legislatures for this purpose has never been done since the Constitution’s founding. In fact, many in political science circles wonder exactly how such a convention would be formulated or how it would otherwise occur.
Establishing A Constitutional Convention
While establishing a Convention to alter the Constitution itself has never been done, a similar process was implemented first to propose the Constitution itself. During that time, the Convention required two-thirds (7 of the 13) of the existing states to arrive before they began.
Once the Convention began, each state would have several delegates that would form a delegation. This delegation would be given one collective vote. The vote would either be in favor or against the proposed amendment based on the majority opinion of the delegates. If the delegates were split, the state would not cast a vote.
Overall Difficulty In Creating A Constitutional Convention
There have been three separate attempts to call for a Convention throughout history.
The first was an amendment to provide Senators with a popular election. The second amendment allowed states to include additional factors outside of population equality when establishing state legislative districts. Finally, the third attempt proposed an amendment that required the US budget to be balanced more regularly.
While the first attempt eventually went through via the congressional method, the second and third attempts, while close, were not able to reach the two-thirds threshold.
Who Is Allowed To Propose An Amendment?
Under Article 5 of the Constitution, only Congress or State Legislatures can propose an Amendment. No one from the executive or the judiciary branch can veto or deny an amendment from passing, whether a sitting President or a Supreme Court Judge.
While average citizens are similarly unable to push for a proposed amendment, they can petition their elected officials.
How can you propose an amendment?
If you want to propose a bill to Congress or present a potential amendment to the Constitution, it is possible. Of course, only a congressional member can propose a bill on the floor. But, by contacting and meeting your representative, you may be able to convince your officials of the importance of a bill.
This can result in that bill being proposed on the floor, passed by the houses, and observed as law as part of the Constitution. It isn’t easy and will take a lot of effort on your end. However, this is what the Constitution and Article 5 were meant for.