Democracy Restated

The Problem with How we Amend the Constitution

Americans deserve a way to change the Constitution that is more democratic, that treats the states and the nation as equal partners, and that makes amendments a little easier while also broadening the base of support.

Congress monopolizes the first step in changing the Constitution, which is the power to propose an amendment. This unfairly excludes the state legislatures, which are closer to the people and are equally capable of proposing amendments.

Conversely, the states monopolize the second step in changing the Constitution -- ratification -- which is voting yes or no on a proposed amendment. This unfairly excludes the nation. We can make ratification more democratic, and also broaden the base of support for amendments, by including the nation in ratification.

A Way Forward

Our plan at Democracy Restated is to sponsor an Advisory Convention of politically savvy delegates from every state. The delegates will consider a small number of ways to improve the amendment process, and identify the most promising. Then, using a sister organization designed for political engagement, we will launch a nationwide campaign to update the amendment rules.

Questions for the Advisory Convention

The delegates will tackle these and other questions:

Should there be a national referendum for ratifying proposed amendments? If yes, should it require a double supermajority, meaning a certain fraction of the nation as a whole plus majorities in a certain fraction of the states?

Should the voting thresholds for proposing and/or ratifying amendments be lower than they are currently?

If a certain fraction of the states could propose amendments by adopting identical language, who would determine when this requirement is met? Would states be able to retract their approval?

Should there be an alternate pathway for amendments which keeps the existing rules untouched? Or should all of the current amendment rules be reconsidered and potentially replaced?

Details on the Advisory Convention

For each state, we want delegates that will roughly approximate the state's political spectrum.

We anticipate having 3 delegates from the 1/3 of the states with the smallest populations, 5 delegates from the 1/3 of the states with populations in the middle, and 7 delegates from the 1/3 of the states with the largest populations, for a total of 250.

We plan to count votes two ways: by state delegation (one vote per state), and by individual delegates, with the goal of finding a proposal that is popular both among the state delegations and among the individual delegates.