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Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution

Please read this, the text of Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution VERY carefully, then I am going to try to explain Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution, also very carefully. I have found that too many people, including some conservatives, are spreading a serious misunderstanding concerning it.

Article 5
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

This article defines exactly TWO avenues for amendments to be PROPOSED to the constitution.
1) Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by 2/3 of the Congress (i.e. 2/3 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate must agree to do so.)
2) Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by the States when 2/3 of the state legislatures agree to call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments.
3) Please note that in either case amendments are only being PROPOSED. The second method via the States is only to bring together a convention for the purpose of PROPOSING amendments, not for in fact amending the constitution.
4) There is nothing in Article 5 even suggesting a mechanism for calling an actual constitutional convention by which the constitution would be directly amended. People are suggesting that an Article 5 States convention would or could do this, this is FALSE and to spread such an idea is either a deliberate lie or a serious misunderstanding.
5) There is also nothing in this amendment to suggest that Congress can deny the rights of the States to PROPOSE amendments via the States route. The States do not need Congress’ approval and if States proposed amendments are then also ratified by the States as set forth in Article 5, the U.S. Constitution is duly amended – PERIOD.
6) By either route of PROPOSING amendments, the PROPOSED amendments must still be RATIFIED by 3/4 of the States in order to become actual amendments to the U.S. constitution. Neither the Congress nor the States can do it other that through the TWO STEPS of PROPOSING amendments and then the States RATIFYING them.
5) Amendments are RATIFIED by either 3/4 of the State legislatures OR by 3/4 of State conventions. Which ratification mode, state legislatures or state conventions, is determined by the congress Congress. However, just because the Congress may determine which ratification mode is used, it may not ignore the fact that the states are by the necessary proportions proposing amendments and thwart ratification. Article 5 does not give Congress that power.

So, please LIKE and SHARE this as broadly as you can so as to help put aside the fear and uncertainty being spread concerning the power that the States do in fact posses to amend the Constitution per Article 5.

Also, see this additional comment:  Congress cannot legally block this process by the states.

Also, see this article:  The Myth of a Runaway Amendments Convention

Also, see this article:   Jurisprudence of the Amendment Process

One Response to “Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution”

  • For those who insist that the Congress has power to block the power of the States to call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution, or that the States have to beg Congress for that privilege, please refer to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 85.—————————————————- “In opposition to the probability of subsequent amendments, it has been urged that the persons delegated to the administration of the national government will always be disinclined to yield up any portion of the authority of which they were once possessed. For my own part I acknowledge a thorough conviction that any amendments which may, upon mature consideration, be thought useful, will be applicable to the organization of the government, not to the mass of its powers; and on this account alone, I think there is no weight in the observation just stated. I also think there is little weight in it on another account. The intrinsic difficulty of governing THIRTEEN STATES at any rate, independent of calculations upon an ordinary degree of public spirit and integrity, will, in my opinion constantly impose on the national rulers the necessity of a spirit of accommodation to the reasonable expectations of their constituents. But there is yet a further consideration, which proves beyond the possibility of a doubt, that the observation is futile. It is this that the national rulers, whenever nine States concur, will have no option upon the subject. By the fifth article of the plan, the Congres will be obliged “on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the States [which at present amount to nine], to call a convention for proposing amendments, which shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof.” The words of this article are peremptory. The Congress “shall call a convention.” Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body. And of consequence, all the declamation about the disinclination to a change vanishes in air. Nor however difficult it may be supposed to unite two thirds or three fourths of the State legislatures, in amendments which may affect local interests, can there be any room to apprehend any such difficulty in a union on points which are merely relative to the general liberty or security of the people. We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.”