by India Westbrook
The University of West Georgia’s Department of Political Science recently hosted its 12th Annual Constitution Day program in honor of the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. UWG Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Hunter presented the topic “Amending the Constitution,” which discussed the various ways in which the Constitution can be amended.
Dr. Hunter, a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, explained that, “Though we celebrate the Constitution, no one seems to like it as it is now, and that’s because everyone wants to amend the Constitution.”
He reviewed the two ways to amend the Constitution: to require that two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives and two-thirds of the U.S. Senate propose an amendment to the Constitution, or for Congress to call a new Constitutional Convention upon application of two-thirds of the state legislatures. Amendments can be ratified by either receiving the approval of three-fourths of state legislatures or by holding conventions in three-fourths of the states.
Dr. Hunter also spoke about how in American history politicians have proposed ways that the U.S. Constitution should be changed. These recommendations resulted in nearly 12,000 Constitutional amendments being proposed in Congress. From all of the proposed amendments only 27 have been ratified.
He explained that the reasoning behind why so many amendments have not been passed
is because they are controversial. Amendments such as anti-abortion, balanced budgets,
or abolishing the death penalty were not successful with gaining approval from Congress.
“For anything that is controversial, it will be impossible to get two-thirds of the state to agree to the passing of the proposed amendment,” Dr. Hunter said. “The only type of amendments that will be passed are those that have a broad national consensus, which is what majority of the public wants.
“Though many amendments were not passed through congress,” he continued, “27 ratified amendments have significantly changed the U.S. Constitution, the first 10 became known as the Bill of Rights.”
The program also briefed the audience on all 27 amendments, including the history of their ratifications. During the presentation, Dr. Hunter said that the 27th amendment was his favorite.
The law states: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the senators and representatives, shall take effect until an election of representatives shall have intervened.”
“This means that congress cannot give itself a pay raise without an intervening house election,” he said.Posted on