A formal amendment to the U.S. Constitution is one that goes through one of the processes outlined in Article V of the Constitution and adds to or changes the document's wording. In contrast, an informal amendment does not include a change to the wording of the Constitution but reflects a change in how the people or the courts interpret its meaning.Continue Reading
Article V of the Constitution establishes two ways in which an amendment can be both proposed and ratified. The U.S. National Archives outlines the specific procedures by which an amendment becomes a formal amendment. In the first method of proposing an amendment, two-thirds of both houses of Congress adopt a proposed amendment. The alternative is for two-thirds of the state legislatures to request that Congress call a Constitutional Convention; this method has never been used. To ratify a proposed amendment, three-fourths of the state legislatures must ratify it or ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states must approve it.
The large majorities needed to ratify proposed amendments makes it extremely difficult to pass formal amendments, according to the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law. Because amendments are changes to the supreme law of the land, a formal amendment is the ultimate legislative check against the executive veto and Supreme Court's judicial review.Learn more about Law
Cornell University Law School says that the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution deals with rights of criminal defendants. This includes the right to a speedy public trial, the right to counsel, the right to know who accused the person of a crime, the nature of the exact crime and the right to a fair jury. This amendment has been tested in regards to terrorism trials in the recent past.Full Answer >
The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for the separate assignment of electors to the candidates for both the president and the vice president, as Wikipedia describes. According to the National Archives, this amendment, which was ratified in 1804, was passed in response to the contested election of 1800.Full Answer >
The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America is part of the Bill of Rights, a document that enumerates freedoms given to all Americans. The amendment was ratified Dec. 15, 1791, and it guarantees the rights of citizens to worship, peaceably assemble and address grievances to the federal government.Full Answer >
The informal amendment process is the phrase used when the meaning of the Constitution changes. When the actual wording of the Constitution is changed, it is known as the formal amendment process.Full Answer >