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The Tiered Article V

35 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2013  

Michael Gentithes

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology; New York University School of Law; Loyola University Chicago Law

Date Written: September 1, 2013


When the authors of the United States Constitution drafted Article V, they intended to strike a balance between constancy and modernity. That balance would account for the authors’ fallibility while at the same time establishing an enduring constitutional regime that was the unquestionable source of the nation’s most deeply entrenched legal norms. Experience has shown that Article V fell short of that aim. Instead, it has handcuffed constitutional modernization, either precluding needed reforms or forcing constitutional changes to seep through alternative, informal pathways for the creation of new “constitutional” law. That pattern can and should be averted.

In this Article, I propose a unique, tiered scheme for constitutional change that would work alongside existing Article V procedures. That scheme can solve the modernization problem facing our constitutional regime without undermining its constancy or fundamental status. The new amendatory procedure would contain three steps for the easier proposal, initial passage, and final ratification of an amendment that is based upon existing language in a state constitution. It would lower the supermajority requirements of Article V, but would be supported by many of the same justifications levied in favor of those stringent supermajority requirements in the first place. Such a change to the way we change the Constitution is sorely needed.

Suggested Citation

Gentithes, Michael, The Tiered Article V (September 1, 2013). Whittier Law Review, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2013. Available at SSRN:

Michael Gentithes (Contact Author)

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Loyola University Chicago Law ( email )


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