Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Formal vs. Informal Amendment

The founders of the Constitution realized that change was inevitable overtime, and that in order for a government to succeed, it needs to keep up. They thereby constructed the Constitution as an adaptable document, one that would be able to grow and change along with the people it governs. Therefore, the Constitution can be changed both formally and informally.
The formal amendment process of the constitution consists of two phases, proposal and ratification, each of which can be carried out in two different ways. An amendment can be proposed either by a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress, or by a national convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. Once it has been proposed, the amendment moves on to the process of ratification. In order to be ratified, the amendment must either be approved by three-fourths of the states’ legislatures, as in the case of all amendments except for the 21st, or by a special convention called for by three-fourths of the states. If the amendment is ratified, it then becomes part of the official US Constitution, and is made into law.
The Constitution can also be modified in a less official manner. The Constitution can undergo change through judicial interpretation, changes in political practices, changes in technology, and as a result of the increasing demands on policymakers. The most distinct of the informal processes is the practice of Judicial Review, as established in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison. Throughout the years, Judicial Review, although not clearly outlined in the constitution, has become an essential part of the Constitution, as evident in cases such as Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education. Political parties are another informal yet influential aspect of the Constitution. Although they are not mentioned in the constitution, they have come to play a key role in American politics. Advances in technology have also managed to informally change the way we follow the constitution. When the founders originally drafted the constitution, things such as atomic bombs, abortions, and the internet were not even fathomable. As a result, we have come to follow somewhat of an unwritten constitution, in which the rules for the use of new technology are set. Lastly, the increasing demands that are currently placed on policymakers have also affected the way the Constitution is interpreted. America started off as a meager country that barely had the power to rule itself, let alone the world, but as time went on and the US grew, it gradually emerged as a superpower. As the power of the country grows, so does the power in the hands of the president, resulting in increasing demands on all policymakers involved in our government. As you can see, the Constitution originally given to us by the founders of this country has changed a great deal, and will continue to change as time goes on.

2 comments:

dessie angel said...

Thank you so much for this post. It had helped me understand this topic even further. And it helped me with my homework. Great explanation, though I needed a bit more siting of your information.

mata said...

Superb. Government is so much easier to comprehend now. Thank you times a billion.