Section 2: Formally Amending the Constitution
1. Methods of amending the Constitution:
b. Second Method -- Amendment is proposed by Congress by a two-thirds vote in both houses, then ratified by special conventions in three-fourths of the States (38 of 50)(Only repeal of prohibition, i.e., 21st Amendment adopted in this fashion).
c. Third Method -- Amendment is proposed at a national convention when requested by two-thirds of the State legislatures (34 of 50), then ratified by three-fourths of the State legislatures (38 of 50).
d. Fourth Method -- Amendment is proposed
at a national convention called by Congress when requested by two-thirds
of the State legislatures (34 of 50), then ratified by special conventions
held in three-fourths of the States (38 of 50).
b. Proposals at national level, ratification is a State-by-State process. The participation of both the Federal Government and state government in the amendment process is evidence of federalism. An amendment may be formally proposed ONLY by Congress or the President.
c. When Congressional resolution passed, proposal not forwarded to President for signature, as in other enrolled legislation.
d. Criticism due to no popular vote or
conventions, rather legislative action.
2) Kimble v. Swackhammer (1978), State
can call for an advisory vote by the people before it acts.
f. Note as an illustration of how difficult it is to amend the constitution, the fact that a simple majority is not enough to satisfy constitutional requirements in either the proposal stage or the ratification stage of the amendment process.
g. The most commonly used method of amending the Constitution is for Congress to propose and the State legislatures to ratify.
3. The Civil War Amendments combined to end slavery (13th, 1986), define American citizenship, proclaim the rights of due process and equal protection of the law (14th, 1868), and outlaw restrictions on the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude (15th, 1870).
4. Other amendments further define the workings of government, empower the government in certain ways, or deal with important social issues.
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