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  • Sending the New York Times back to School

    Posted by Shannon Love on December 19th, 2010 (All posts by )

    Anyone else notice that the New York Times can’t even get basic Constitutional law correct?

    Like any constitutional amendment, it faces enormous hurdles: it must be approved by both chambers of Congress — requiring them to agree, in this case, to check their own power — and then by three-quarters of, or 38, state legislatures.

    Nope, an amendment requires approval by both chambers of Congress OR three-quarters of the states. The framers would have never allowed Congress to be the sole gatekeeper for amending the Constitution.

    Nope, proposing an amendment requires approval by both chambers of Congress OR three-quarters of the states. Ratification requires approval by 3/4 of the states alone. The framers would have never allowed Congress to be the sole gatekeeper for amending the Constitution.

    Oh, and check out the other professor of Constitutional law:

    Sanford V. Levinson, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas, called the proposal “a really terrible idea” because it would give the same weight to small states as it would to large ones, allowing those with a relatively small proportion of the national population to have outsize influence.

    You mean like the way we elect Senators and the President? Oh, the horror!

    Of course, the article has all the bias and slanted innuendo one expects from the New York Times, but you’d think they could get the basic facts correct when they’re mocking others for their supposed Constitutional illiteracy.


    7 Responses to “Sending the New York Times back to School”

    1. renminbi Says:


      or Article 5 of the US Constitution.

      In this case the NYT is substantially correct. This happens quite rarely, but it does happen occasionally.

    2. Doug Mataconis Says:

      Article V requires an Amendment be passed by a 2/3 vote in both Houses of Congress and then ratified by 3/4 of the States. The Times has it absolutely right.

      Alternatively, under Article V 2/3 of the states could call a Constitutional Convention to propose amendments.

    3. Rich Horton Says:

      Well, the Times probably should have used the word “proposed” rather than “approved”, but the Times is correct to say and proposed amendment only needs 3/4 of state legislature (or state conventions.)

      You should probably put in a mea culpa here.

    4. Shannon Love Says:

      Sorry guys but I think I am correct. Article 5 states:

      The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.[emp added]

      Proposed amendments can arise from either the congress or the state legislatures. Ratification requires 3/4 of the state legislatures or a convention called by 3/4 of state legislatures.

      If 3/4 of the states call for a proposed amendment, the Congress has no choice but to comply. The founders were deeply suspicious of centralized authority and set out to make it difficult for one institution to control everything. Article 5 provides a bypass mechanism in the case Congress itself goes off the rails.

    5. Rich Horton Says:

      Shannon, you wrote: “Nope, an amendment requires approval by both chambers or Congress OR three-quarters of the states.”

      That is simply wrong, as this makes it sound like an amendment could be approved without assent from the states.

      (I dont think you typed what you meant to say there.)

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      Rich Horton,

      Good catch, I should have said “proposing an amendment” instead of ratifying. I’ll edit.

    7. b5blue Says:

      All the news that fit to slant.