Article 5 of the constitution explains the mechanism of how the United States can be changed or amended from its original wording.
A way to change the constitution is needed because the writers of the knew they had not created a finished document. In fact, for the to get ratified, several important constitutional amendments needed to be passed right away, as some states vowed not to ratify the without these amendments.
These first amendments – ten in all – are collectively called the Bill of Rights. However, the writers of the constitution also knew that other changes would be necessary for the future.
Knowing that the country would change over time, the framers wanted the to change with the country’s times and needs. To enable these changes, they wrote an into the . This is spelled out in .
Under the procedures specified in Article 5, the has been amended twenty-seven times. The first ten were adopted together in 1791, and the other seventeen amendments were adopted between 1795 and 1992.
There are two ways to amend the .
One method is that an can be proposed from either House or the Senate and then sent for approval by the legislatures.
The second method is for a or group of states to call for a , and for both houses to approve this proposal of Congress.
In either case, a proposal of an must pass in both the House and Senate by a two-thirds majority and must then be ratified by three-quarters of the legislatures (this would currently require by 38 states).
The 3rd and the 4th way to amend the
Looking deeper, however, there are actually four ways to amend the US . Within the two methods of amending the by either a legislative body or a , there are two other methods. Here are the four methods:
- A proposal by Congress with by legislatures.
- A proposal by a of states with by conventions.
- A proposal by a of states with by legislatures.
- A proposal by Congress with by conventions.
Methods two and three have never been used to pass a . Another version of method three is that the states can call on Congress to convene a . Usually, a time limit is imposed in the ‘s writing (typically 7 years) so that the process will not be dragged out indefinitely. If the time limit expires before the required three-fourths majority ratifies the , the will fail to become .
The Difficult Process of Amending the
Any of the four methods to amend the are tedious and difficult to achieve. The requirement to work through both houses of Congress and the governments’ legislatures is a significant obstacle to overcome because of the large number of legislators involved. A significant number of these legislators need to agree on the need for and wording of the .
A two-thirds majority must be reached in both the House and Senate and at least three-quarters of the states must ratify it; otherwise, the will be defeated. There are numerous places in this adoption process where it can go awry. For an to succeed in being adopted, there must be a high degree of bipartisan cooperation.
Maintaining the Stability of the Government
Why did the framers make the process for changing the so difficult in A ?
One immediate reason was that the framers needed to lock in the political deals made to get the ratified. Several states made it known they would not in favor of the if certain rights were not guaranteed.
Even as the basic the was adopted. To make it possible for amendments to be adopted to the , was created.‘s merits were being debated in the legislatures, the framers worked on the first twelve amendments to be adopted right away. As it turned out, two of those amendments were rejected, but ten were ratified (the Bill of Rights) soon after
The more important reason to make the the a lengthy and difficult process would help maintain the nation’s laws stability. They did not want it to be possible for arbitrary changes to be made to the , yet if changes were needed, the difficulty would guarantee that the change was needed and well thought out. difficult was a more visionary idea. The framers believed that making changes to
Another safeguard to keep the nation’s ruling document’s stability is that stipulates that no may change the 1st and 4th clauses in the Ninth Section of Article 1. Moreover, articlea of its full representation in the U.S. Senate. Additionally, the U.S. has no role in any part of the formal . says no can deprive
, Part of a Well Crafted Document
In , the US writers carefully crafted a document to ensure the new country’s strength and stability. As a result, the has helped maintain the United States government’s stability for well over 200 years.