What steps are required to pass a Constitution Amendment?


Article Five of the United States Constitution prescribes two methods for proposing and two methods for the ratification of an amendment. An amendment may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a national convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. The latter procedure has never been used. Upon adoption by the Congress or a national convention, an amendment must then be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by special state ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states. The decision of which ratification method will be used for any given amendment is Congress' alone to make.[1] Only for the 21st amendment was the latter procedure invoked and followed.

Collectively, members of the House and Senate typically propose around 200 amendments during each two–year term ofCongress.[2] Most however, never get out of the Congressional committees in which they were proposed, and only a fraction of those that do receive enough support to win Congressional approval to actually go through the constitutional ratification process.

Congress has proposed 33 such amendments since 1789. Of these, 27 have been ratified. The framers of the Constitution, recognizing the difference between regular legislation and constitutional matters, intended that it be difficult to change the Constitution; but not so difficult as to render it an inflexible instrument of government, as the amendment mechanism in the Articles of Confederation, which required a unanimous vote of thirteen states for ratification, had proven to be. Therefore, a less stringent process for amending the Constitution was established in Article V.

The framers of the Constitution included a proviso at the end of Article V shielding three clauses in the new frame of government from being amended. They are: Article I, Section 9, Clause 1, concerning the migration and importation of slaves; Article I, Section 9, Clause 4, concerning Congress' taxing power; and, Article I, Section 3, Clause 1, which provides for equal representation of the states in the Senate. These are the only textually entrenched provisions of the Constitution. The shield protecting the first two entrenched clauses was absolute but of limited duration; it was in force only until 1808. The shield protecting the third entrenched clause, though less absolute than that covering the others, is practically permanent; it will be in force until there is unanimous agreement among the states favoring a change.

Beginning in the early 20th century, Congress has usually, but not always, stipulated that an amendment must be ratified by the required number of states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states in order to become part of the Constitution. Congress' authority to set ratification deadline was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Coleman v. Miller307 U.S. 433(1939)

What is a Metropolitan Statistical Area?

Metropolitan  Statistical Areas (NSA) are geographic entities delineated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for use by Federal statistical agencies in collecting, tabulating, and publishing Federal statistics.  A metro area contains a core urban area of 50,000 or more population. Each metro area consists of one or more counties and includes the counties containing the core urban area, as well as any adjacent counties that have a high degree of social and economic integration (as measured by commuting to work) with the urban core.


Why are there only 33 Metropolitan Statistical Area selected?


There are only 33 Metropolitan Statistical Areas used because it is the optimal number required for passage of a Constitutional Amendment.  It also is equal to one third of the existing number of Senator pegged at the current number of one hundred Senators.


Why are there currently only 100 U.S. Senators? 

The Constitutional Convention[1]:31(also known as the Philadelphia Convention,[1]:31 the Federal Convention,[1]:31 or the Grand Convention at Philadelphia[2][3]) took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although the Convention was intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madisonand Alexander Hamilton, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington to preside over the Convention. The result of the Convention was the creation of the United States Constitution, placing the Convention among the most significant events in the history of the United States.

The most contentious disputes revolved around composition and election of the Senate, how "proportional representation" was to be defined (whether to include slaves or other property), whether to divide theexecutive power between three persons or invest the power into a single president, how to elect the president, how long his term was to be and whether he could run for reelection, what offenses should be impeachable, the nature of a fugitive slave clause, whether to allow the abolition of the slave trade, and whether judges should be chosen by the legislature or executive. Most of the time during the Convention was spent on deciding these issues, while the powers of legislature, executive, and judiciary were not heavily disputed. Once the Convention began, the delegates first agreed on the principles of the Convention, then they agreed on Madison's Virginia Plan and began to modify it. A Committee of Detail assembled during the July 4 recess and produced a rough draft. Most of this rough draft remained in place, and can be found in the final version of the constitution. After the final issues were resolved, the Committee on Style produced the final version, and it was voted on and sent to the states.

 The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman's Compromise) was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation that each state would have under the United States Constitution. It retained the bicameral legislature as proposed by Roger Sherman, along with proportional representation in the lower house, but required the upper house to be weighted equally between the states. Each state would have two representatives in the upper house

On May 29, 1787, Edmund Randolph of the Virginia delegation proposed the creation of a bicameral legislature. Under his proposal, membership in both houses would be allocated to each state proportional to its population; however, candidates for the lower house would be nominated and elected by the people of each state. This allowed fairness and equality to the people. Candidates for the upper house would be nominated by the state legislatures of each state and then elected by the members of the lower house. This proposal was known as the Virginia Plan.

Less populous states like Delaware were afraid that such an arrangement would result in their voices and interests being drowned out by the larger states. Many delegates also felt that the Convention did not have the authority to completely scrap the Articles of Confederation,[1] as the Virginia Plan would have.[2] In response, on June 15, 1787,William Paterson of the New Jersey delegation proposed a legislature consisting of a single house. Each state was to have equal representation in this body, regardless of population. The New Jersey Plan, as it was called, would have left the Articles of Confederation in place, but would have amended them to somewhat increase Congress's powers.[3]

At the time of the convention, the South was growing more quickly than the North, and Southern states had the most extensive Western claimsSouth CarolinaNorth Carolina, and Georgia were small in the 1780s, but they expected growth, and thus favored proportional representation. New York was one of the largest states at the time, but two of its three representatives (Hamilton being the exception) favored an equal representation per state, as part of their desire to see maximum autonomy for the states. (The two representatives other than Hamilton left the convention before the representation issue was resolved, leaving Hamilton, and New York state, without a vote.)

James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were two of the leaders of the proportional representation group. Madison argued that a conspiracy of large states against the small states was unrealistic as the large states were so different from each other. Hamilton argued that the states were artificial entities made up of individuals, and accused small state representatives of wanting power, not liberty. (see History of the United States Senate).

For their part, the small state representatives argued that the states were, in fact, of a legally equal status, and that proportional representation would be unfair to their states.Gunning Bedford, Jr. of Delaware notoriously threatened on behalf of the small states, "the small ones w[ould] find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith, who will take them by the hand and do them justice."

Elbridge Gerry ridiculed the small states’ claim of sovereignty, stating “that we never were independent States, were not such now, & never could be even on the principles of the Confederation. The States & the advocates for them were intoxicated with the idea of their sovereignty.”[4]

The Compromise

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On June 14, when the Convention was ready to consider the report on the Virginia plan, William Paterson of New Jersey requested an adjournment to allow certain delegations more time to prepare a substitute plan. The request was granted, and, on the next day, Paterson submitted nine resolutions embodying important amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which was followed by vigorous debate. On June 19, the delegates rejected the New Jersey Plan and voted to proceed with a discussion of the Virginia Plan. The small States became increasingly discontented and some threatened to withdraw. On July 2, the Convention was deadlocked over giving each State an equal vote in the upper house, with five States in the affirmative, five in the negative, and one divided.

The problem was referred to a committee consisting of one delegate from each State to reach a compromise. On July 5, the committee submitted its report, which became the basis for the “Great Compromise" of the Convention. The report recommended that in the upper house each State should have an equal vote and in the lower house, each State should have one representative for every 40,000 inhabitants,[5] counting slaves as three-fifths of an inhabitant,[5] and that money bills should originate in the lower house (not subject to amendment by the upper chamber).

After six weeks of turmoil, North Carolina switched its vote to equal representation per state and Massachusetts abstained, and a compromise was reached, being called the "Great Compromise." In the "Great Compromise," every state was given equal representation, previously known as the New Jersey Plan, in one house of Congress, and proportional representation, known before as the Virginia Plan, in the other. Because it was considered more responsive to majority sentiment, the House of Representatives was given the power to originate all legislation dealing with the federal budget and revenues/taxation, per the Origination Clause.

Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth, both of the Connecticut delegation, created a compromise that, in a sense, blended the Virginia (large-state) and New Jersey (small-state) proposals regarding congressional apportionment. Ultimately, however, its main contribution was in determining the apportionment of the senate. Sherman sided with the two-house national legislature of the Virginia Plan, but proposed "That the proportion of suffrage in the 1st. branch [house] should be according to the respective numbers of free inhabitants; and that in the second branch or Senate, each State should have one vote and no more."[6] Although Sherman was well liked and respected among the delegates, his plan failed at first. It was not until July 23 that representation was finally settled.[6]

What was ultimately included in the constitution was a modified form of this plan, partly because the larger states disliked it. In committee, Benjamin Franklin modified Sherman's proposal to make it more acceptable to the larger states. He added the requirement that revenue bills originate in the house.

The final July 16 vote on the Connecticut Compromise left the Senate looking like the Confederation Congress. In the preceding weeks of debate, Madison, King, and Gouverneur Morris each vigorously opposed the compromise for this reason.[7] For the nationalists, the Convention’s vote for the compromise was a stunning defeat. But on July 23, they found a way to salvage their vision of an elite, independent Senate. Just before most of the convention’s work was referred to the Committee of Detail, Morris and King moved that state representatives in the Senate be given individual votes, rather than voting en bloc, as they had in the Confederation Congress. Then Oliver Ellsworth, a leading proponent of the Connecticut Compromise, supported their motion, and the Convention adopted it.[8] As the Convention had early acquiesced in the Virginia Plan’s proposal that senators have long terms, restoring that Plan’s vision of individually powerful senators stopped the Senate from becoming a reliable safeguard of federalism. State governments lost their direct say in Congress’s decisions to make national laws. As the personally powerful senators received terms much longer than the state legislators who appointed them, they became substantially independent. The compromise nonetheless continued to serve the self interest of small-state political leaders, who were assured of access to more seats in the Senate than they might otherwise have obtained.[9]


















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