The Founders knew they couldn’t anticipate everything that would happen centuries into the future. They knew they were fallible. So in Article V, they gave us a mechanism to make corrections and adjustments to our national government without having to go to war again, or start over from scratch…to amend our Constitution.
The first method is the one with which most people are familiar: Congress proposes an amendment. If it is passed with a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate, then ratified by 3/4 of the states, it becomes part of our Constitution. This is how all the amendments we have thus far made to our Constitution were implemented.
George Mason, known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights,” sagely predicted that if Congress were the only body with the authority to propose amendments, “no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive.” Consequently, a second method, which gave the state legislatures the authority to propose amendments, was unanimously adopted by the Constitutional Convention. Because the legislatures of all the states don’t meet together on a regular basis like Congress does, a special meeting must be held to give the states the opportunity to discuss and draft their proposals. This meeting is called an Article V Convention. Congress is obligated to call the Convention when 2/3 of the state legislatures pass a resolution saying that they want to have one. These resolutions are called applications. Any proposals that are agreed upon at the Convention must go through the same ratification process as those that are proposed by Congress before they become a part of our Constitution.
How can amendments help?