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AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION

AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION

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AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION

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  1. AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION A21

  2. Amending the Constitution A21 The Founding fathers wanted 2 things when it came to amending the constitution: 1) It DID NOT want constant meddling with the constitution thereby making it unstable 2) However, it knew that there HAD to be some formal way of amending the constitution to deal with changing times.

  3. Formally amending the Constitution A21 The COMPROMISE was to make it very difficult but not impossible to amend the US Constitution. Formally there are a number of ways an amendment can be passed. AMENDMENT PROPOSED IN CONGRESS It has to be passed with a 2/3rd majority in BOTH HOUSES AMENDMENT RATIFIED BY STATES It has to be passed by 3/4 of STATE LEGISLATURES

  4. ALTERNATIVELY.. A21 There is also a mechanism to amend at STATE LEVEL – although only used once NATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION Called by at least 2/3rds of States **(Never used)** STATE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION 3/4 of States call conventions and ratify ** (Used only for 21st amendment repealing prohibition)

  5. The ability to amend gives the constitution the nickname of “A LIVING CONSTITUTION” A21 This is because it is not a RIGID DOCUMENT but is always open to being amended if necessary… or indeed REINTERPRETED (an informal way of amending) Why has it been amended so little?

  6. JUDICIAL REVIEW • The most important reason however is the Supreme courts power of JUDICIAL REVIEW. This allows the court to reinterpret the meaning of the constitution after over 200 years. These are called INTERPRETATIVE AMENDMENTS and provide flexibility within the system. • 1 REVERENCE • Americans revere their constitution almost religiously. Any attempt to tamper with such an historic and proven document requires skill, commitment and widespread support in Congress and at State level. A21 • 2. BUILT-IN DIFFICULTIES • The founding fathers made the process of amending the constitution deliberately difficult to ensure that any amendments were thought through properly. • DELIBERATELY VAGUE • The constitution was made deliberately vague in places to allow it to adapt and stretch. This has allowed it to evolve as it has been reinterpreted rather than radically adjusted. An example of this would be the power granted to Congress “to provide for the common defence and welfare of the United States” This is very open ended

  7. Informal Amendments A21 Informal amendment is the process by which over time many changes have been made in the Constitution which HAVE NOT INVOLVED ANY CHANGES IN ITS WRITTEN WORDS • There are methods whereby the current INTERPRETATION of Constitutional law is changed. • These changes are made when the US Supreme Court is asked to decide the meaning and application of a particular part of the Constitution.

  8. JUDICIAL REVIEW Marberry Vs Madison (1803) A21 In 1803 a landmark ruling established the need for JUDICIAL REVIEW.It ruled that the SUPREME COURT had the right to declare laws UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

  9. Informal Amendments A21 The Supreme Court decides the meaning of the portion in question and that decision provides direction to the rest of the courts on how to interpret that portion. ONLY when the decision by the USSC does not meet the needs or desires of the general population, the Constitution is changed through FORMAL AMENDMENT.

  10. Example of informal amendments A21 One example of this is the difficulties that slaves and their descendants had in gaining Constitutional rights. We think these things are self evident: That all men are created equal That all men have some rights given to them by God That among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

  11. Dredd Scott vs Sanford A21 The Court held that the framers of the Constitution DID NOT intend for the Constitution to apply to slaves. They argued that though it says that "All Men Are Created Equal", neither SLAVES nor WOMEN had the rights of men

  12. Dredd Scott vs Sanford A21 This resulted in the 14th amendment guaranteeing equal protection for all but it was still challenged in the Supreme court. It would take another 100 years to get full emancipation.

  13. Plessy vs Ferguson (1896) A21 This was again a challenge to the Constitutional rights of Coloured people in the US. It was a case fought over the right to segregate in trains according to race. The Supreme court argued the 14th amendment HAD NOT been violated as long as it could be proved that blacks and whites were SEPARATE BUT EQUAL This lead to organised segregation in large parts of the deep south

  14. Brown vs Education Board (1954) A21 Yet again the legality of segregation was challenged. In the Court – This time successfully. Linda Brown argued successfully and, against much protest, that inequalities did exist and lead to more inequality therefore violating the 14th amendment. PLESSY THEREFORE WAS OUT OF DATE!

  15. ROE v's WADE A21 Other Supreme Court decisions CLARIFY THE MEANING OF THE CONSTITUTION WITHOUT ANY CHANGE TO THE WORDING. One example is the issue of ABORTION • This is different because there has been no Amendment to clearly and directly allow abortion added to the US Constitution. • Since the question of abortion is not addressed directly there is always a chance that a different decision on different grounds (maybe the right to life for a not-yet-viable fetus) that would prevent or limit abortion. • Currently abortion is allowed because of Roe v. Wade and was decided largely on: • Privacy issues • The requirement for due process. • Because of Roe v. Wade, abortion on demand is protected by the current interpretation of the Constitution

  16. ASSIGNMENT A21 How can the Constitution be amended in Theory and how has it changed in practice?