A 28th AmendmentrnDemocracy and Constitutional Changernby William J. Quirk and Robert M. WilcoxrnHow different this country would be if we had a 28thrnAmendment which read: “An amendment approved byrnthe legislatures of three-fourths of the States shall be valid to allrnintents and purposes as part of this Constitution.” Threefourthsrnof the states, if they desired, would then be able tornchange the Constitution without the approval of Congressrnand without a convention. This simple change would fundamentallyrnalter American democracy. The people would be encouragedrnto come up with new solutions to our problems. Certainlyrnwe would have term limits and balanced budgetrnamendments. We probably would not have federal judges supervisingrnlaw enforcement and running state schools, prisons,rnand mental institutions. Nor would we have the unelectedrnSupreme Court determining basic social and economic doctrine.rnUnder the 28th Amendment, we could restore basicrnprinciples of federalism and return to a government which betterrnreflects the values of the governed.rnThe merits of various proposed constitutional amendmentsrnare widely debated, but there is little talk about the amendingrnprocess itself. That process, however, more than the substancernof any proposed amendment, defines the nature of our democracy.rnOur democracy is one in which the people ultimatelyrnmust determine the power and authority of the federal government.rnIt follows that the people need to be able to amend thernWilliam ]. Quirk and Robert M. Wilcox are professors at thernUniversity of South Carolina School of Law. A paperbackrnedition of Judicial Dictatorship by William ]. Quirk andrnR. Randall Bridwell will appear in October.rnConstitution without—as presently required—first having tornobtain the consent of the government they are supposed to berncontrolling. The current amendment mechanism, which ledrnLord Brycc to conclude in his 1888 study The American Commonwealthrnthat “The Constitution which it is the most difficultrnto change is that of the United States,” is a strange compromisernfrom the last days of the 1787 Constitutional Convention inrnPhiladelphia. It reflects the unresolved differences between thernVirginians, represented by James Madison, and the Hamiltoniansrn—differences, of course, which remain unresolved today.rnThe Constitution currently provides for two methods ofrnamendment: in one, Congress, by a two-thirds vote of bothrnhouses, may propose an amendment to the states that will becomerneffective when three-fourths of the states ratify it—all 27rnamendments have been adopted this way; in the other,rnCongress, upon application of two-thirds of the states, “shallrncall a convention which” may propose an amendment to thernstates which will become effective when three-fourths of thernstates ratify it. Under the first method, because Congress mustrnpropose the amendment, it is unreasonable to expect any reductionrnof congressional powers or the powers of the other twornnational branches. In the second method. Congress “calls” thernconvention, but the Constitution does not specify how thernconvention is to be organized or what powers it will have.rnCongress, in the call, has to provide for shaping the convention.rnThe shape Congress gives it will, of course, affect the convention’srnultimate success or failure.rnCeorge Washington, in urging the adoption of the proposedrnConstitution in 1789, highlighted the “constitutional door”rn18/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn