Government and Politics

Bill of Rights

How are amendments made to the U.S. Constitution?

There are two paths that proposed amendments can take to become law. The first path is this: An amendment is proposed in Congress; two-thirds of both houses must then approve it (if they do not, then the proposal ends here); if approved in both houses of the U.S. Congress, the proposed amendment is sent to the legislatures (or conventions) of each state of the union; three-fourths of all the state legislatures must then approve it (by whatever rules each state legislature uses); once three-fourths of the states approve it, the amendment is made (if three-fourths of the states do not approve it, the amendment fails to become law).

The second path is this: The legislatures of two-thirds of the states ask for an amendment to be made to the U.S. Constitution; Congress then calls a convention to propose it; then the proposed amendment becomes a law when it is ratified by the legislatures in three-fourths of the states. While this path has never been taken, it’s an important provision nonetheless since it allows for a popular, state-based proposal to be considered.


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