The Amendment Process

Article V of the U.S. Constitution lays out the process by which amendments can take place.

There are two ways to go.  The first is to convince two-thirds of the Congressional representatives and senators to vote for a joint resolution proposing an amendment for the States to consider.  The president doesn’t sign the proposal which goes directly to the states for ratification.

The second way is to convince two-thirds of the state legislatures to ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments.  Although there have been more than 400 applications over time from 49 of the 50 states calling for a national convention of state delegates to amend the Constitution, Congress has never voted to call such a convention.

When Congress passes a joint resolution proposing an amendment, it has two ways to go.  The first is to require the amendment be voted on by state legislatures.  This is how it has happened every time – except once.

The 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition was ratified by conventions held in each state.  Congress was afraid that the prohibitionists would block the vote in the legislatures and believed that the people attending the conventions would be less subject to pressure.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, ratification must take place within “some reasonable time after the proposal.”  Beginning with the 18th amendment, Congress has set the period at seven years,

Only 33 proposals have obtained the necessary supermajority of Congress to be sent to the states and only 27, including the Bill of Rights, have been ratified.

Corporate Personhood was illustrated by Helen Werner Cox whose artwork is catalogued at


Kelly Gerling

This is right for the government’s own process of amending itself, except it is actually four. Two ways to propose amendments, and two ways to ratify them. That’s for Article 5. And we, the people of the nation can amend directly. Several constitutional scholars have made that clear. They include Akhil Reed Amar (For the People), Sanford Levinson (Our Undemocratic Contstitution), and Daniel Lazare (The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Paralyzes Democracy). So I urge you to read their views and include the process of the people amending by the obvious processes of direct democracy, which are inherent rights, falling under the support of the Declaration of Independence, The Preamble, Amendments 1, 9 and 10, and Lincoln at Gettysburg, and common sense. Nowhere does the Constitution prohibit an Amendment 1 assembly from meeting to propose constitutional amendments to the people for ratification by direct majority vote. Most states do that explicitly. Please add this option. I can provide more reference if they are needed. Just because the American people have been lulled into being child citizens and have subordinated their right to collective decision making to control the government we “ordained and established” in 1790 doesn’t mean they, we, can’t wake up into political adulthood and become adult citizens and fix our broken nation with stems from a flawed Constitution.

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