The Amendment Process

all right our notes tonight are about

the amendment process so far we've

looked at sort of how the Constitution

is set up and what the structure of it

is and so tonight we're going to take a

closer look at what the process is for

formally changing the Constitution so

before we get into it let's think for a

minute about you know kind of why the

Constitution is needed to be changed

well some things that have happened over

time because of amendments that were not

really part of the original Constitution

including a lot of things I think you

might be surprised by for example your

right to free speech and your right to

assemble and speak your mind was not in

the original Constitution the right to

free press was not in the original

Constitution your right to a trial by

jury the right of African Americans to

vote for women to vote for 18 to 20 year

olds to vote these are all things that

were not in the original Constitution

they were things that were added over

time so why are amendments necessary

that's kind of an important question to

get at here you know why do we even need

amendments for the Constitution well the

the framers the guys who wrote the

Constitution designed it as a blueprint

it's a guideline it gives the basic

structure for the government but they

knew that it wouldn't cover every

possible question about the government

or every problem that might ever arise

these were smart guys that understood

that the Constitution needed to have

some flexibility they knew that the

Constitution would have to change over

time as the nation changed as the nation

grew bigger as we moved into the future

these guys understood that

the Constitution needed to be able to

change and grow with the country so they

put in a process where we could change

the constitution to meet the needs of

the time now they also made that process

very difficult so another important

question is why do they do it that way

you know if we need to be able to change

the Constitution why is it such a hard

process to do well it's because they

they did want flexibility but they also

wanted stability they knew the

Constitution needed to change but they

didn't want to changing all the time

they wanted it to stand the test of time

and be stable and last so the framers

intentionally made it difficult to

change not impossible but difficult and

because it is so hard to change the

Constitution this helps to make sure

that any changes that we do make are

taken very very seriously

it makes sure that one political party

can't easily change the Constitution to

fit what they want right so just because

the Republicans win an election doesn't

mean they they're going to be able to

just go in and change the constitution

to benefit themselves it's it's harder

to do than that

it also makes sure that the states and

the national government have to work

together and agree that it's a good

change because if either if either one

of those groups doesn't like it it's not

going to get through and this has worked

really well over the course of the 200

plus years the Constitution has been in

effect there have been over 11,000

suggested amendments and of those we

have only changed the Constitution 27

times which is pretty impressive

especially when you think that the first


were passed like right away the Bill of

Rights so really from from 1800 on we've

really only changed the Constitution

about 17 times so how does it work well

this is a visual that's in the text book

and it shows that there's actually four

different paths that an amendment could

take to get to being a part of the

Constitution but we are gonna really

focus on only one because of the 27

amendments all but one have followed the

exact same path an amendment first has

to be proposed by Congress so if someone

is going to suggest an amendment in

Congress and in order to be officially

proposed it has to pass a two-thirds

vote of both the House and the Senate so

that's already going to be really hard

to do it's hard to get 2/3 of the house

or the Senate to agree on anything much

less to agree on something that's going

to be so important so it has to go

through two-thirds of the house and

two-thirds of the Senate and that is

just to get it proposed if it makes it

through Congress it then has to go to

the states and it has to be approved or

ratified by the states and it takes

three-fourths of the state legislatures

to approve an amendment in order for it

to be added to the Constitution okay so

that's something like you know 37 of the

states need to approve a proposed

amendment and again if it doesn't get to

that amount it's not going to get added

to the Constitution it's a very

difficult process

this is an example of our federal system

at work so we have you know the national

government involved through Congress and

we also have the state governments

involved so there's federalism at work

the national government proposes the

amendment and then the state governments

have to approve it and and both sides

are required any changes have got to be

approved by both the states and the

national government important to note

here too that the president is not

involved anywhere in this process so the

president and the Supreme Court cannot

do anything to block in a minute right

the president can't veto it the Supreme

Court can't call it unconstitutional

that this is entirely based on

federalism that Congress proposes

amendments and the states have to

approve it