Lesson Objectives:- The formal amendment process
- Congressional legislation
- Presidential actions
- Judicial review
- Interpretation of the Constitution
Amendments are not simply proposed and ratified. It is a rigorous process that involves several steps.
Proposing an Amendment takes a two-thirds vote in Congress or can be done by a national convention by request of two-thirds of the state legislatures.
After the amendment is proposed, ratifying it requires a three-fourths vote of the state legislatures or a special convention resulting in a three-fourths vote among the states.
With this process in place, 11,000 amendments have been considered. Only 33 of those have been proposed, and only 27 out of those 33 have been ratified.
The Formal Amendment Process is challenging for a reason: amendments cannot simply be passed like other legislation as that could result in majority rule.
But, there are other ways of enacting rules and regulations that govern us. There is not just one way of getting things done in the United States.
Congress has been given responsibilities that are outlined in the Constitution. In order for it to fulfill its responsibilities, Congress has the power to pass laws.
One example would be that Congress has the authority to regulate commerce. So, Congress has had to pass many laws in order for it to be able to effectively handle this responsibility.
The president has historically exercised certain liberties in carrying out the responsibilities of his office. For example, the Constitution does not require the president to propose bills before Congress.
Also, the Constitution does not expressly give the president the task of entering into executive agreements with other nations.
However, presidents have done both of these things, and those are some of the ways the president can bypass the Formal Amendment Process.
But, do not think that Congress or the President can just enact any law they want and have the final word.
Judicial Review provides the Supreme Court and other courts with the power to examine, and possibly declare unconstitutional, federal or state laws and other acts of government.
As our country goes through changes, interpretation of the Constitution has to stay with the times. One example is the existence of political parties who dominate the elections.
They are not even mentioned in the Constitution as part of the election process, but they have grown to be the biggest part of it.
Our Constitution has to be open to interpretation as our government is constantly evolving.