The Constitution Amendment Process in a Dynamic Society
Amendment Process: Proposals and Ratifications
Adding an amendment to the United States Constitution is a difficult and lengthy process. It is no wonder an amendment has not been added to the Constitution since 1992. The first ten amendments of the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. They were created to ensure that the basic rights of individuals were protected. Knowing the Constitution would require changes in the future, the Framers of the Constitution included Article 5. This section of the Constitution describes the different processes on how to ratify an amendment. There are two ways an amendment can be proposed and two ways it can be ratified, resulting in a total of four ways an amendment can be added to the Constitution. Despite there being four methods, only two have been used to ratify an amendment.
In order for an amendment to be added to the Constitution, it first needs to be proposed. This can be done in one of two ways. Either by a two-thirds vote in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, which has been used for all 27 amendments to the Constitution, or by voting at a national amendment convention at the request of two-thirds of state legislatures. The two methods an amendment can be ratified are if three-fourths of the state legislatures vote in favor of the proposed amendment. This method is considered the “traditional” method as it has been used countless times. The other method requires three-fourths of the approval of the state on the amendment at a special convention called on by the state. This method of ratifying has only been used once for the Twenty-First Amendment.
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Complex Paths to Constitutional Evolution
The most widely used method of amending the Constitution includes a proposal of the amendment by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives and by the ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures. The second way of amending the Constitution consists of the same proposal as the previous one but requires the ratification by three-fourths of the states at a special convention. The other two methods that have not been used to add an amendment to the Constitution are proposed by voting at a constitutional convention and ratified by either three-fourths of the state legislatures or by three-fourths of the states at a special convention.
Although there are four possible ways of adding an amendment to the Constitution, they all prove to be difficult and require widespread support. When first creating the Bill of Rights, two hundred amendments were proposed, and only ten became ratified. Although the process can be helpful in preventing an amendment that is unjust from being added to the Constitution, it makes it more difficult for the Constitution to progress along with society.
The Framers of the Constitution created the amendment process as they knew changes in society were imminent. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for such wide support for ratification, and this could lead to problems about whether or not the Constitution is up to date on where we are in the twenty-first century.
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