Some Constitutional Issues and Points For Discussion
Based on Article V, amendments can be proposed by a two-thirds majority vote in Congress or at a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of the states.7 min read
[excerpted from 1996 material by the American Bar Assn.]
Amending The Constitution
1. According to Article V, amendments can be proposed by a two-thirds majority vote in Congress or at a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of the states. In order for a proposed amendment to become part of the Constitution, approval by three-quarters of the states is required.
2. More than 10,000 amendments have been proposed, but only 27 have become part of the Constitution. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791. Amendment XXVII, which regulates congressional pay adjustments, was ratified most recently, in 1992.
3. The Equal Rights Amendment, passed by Congress in 1972, fell three states short of being ratified in 1982.
4. As many as 120 amendments are currently proposed, including several that would fundamentally alter our government.
1. What is the purpose of amending the Constitution and when is it appropriate? What other means exist for reaching the goals of a proposed amendment?
2. Is the amendment process too cumbersome and lengthy, or not difficult enough?
3. In the last several years, amendments permitting prayer in public schools, requiring a balanced federal budget, limiting terms of members of Congress, and banning flag burning have been advocated by various groups. Are these amendments necessary? What impact might they have on government and/or on rights guaranteed in other parts of the Constitution?
1. When the U.S. Constitution was ratified 200 years ago, the electorate included only a small portion of the total adult population. Since then, the right to vote has steadily been expanded. Eight of the 16 amendments to the Constitution adopted since the Bill of Rights has involved voting rights.
2. The Fifteenth Amendment (1870) stated that one's right to vote may not be denied on account of race, color or having been a slave; the Nineteenth (1920) extended the vote to women; the Twenty-fourth (1964) barred poll taxes in federal elections; and the Twenty-sixth (1971) extended the vote to eighteen-year-olds.