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Chapter 5 Skill/Project

 

Lesson Plan: The Bill of Rights & The Amendment Process

Objectives
The students will:

  • Be able to explain the two ways it is possible to amend the United States Constitution.
  • Access and effective use the resources at the Thomas website at the Library of Congress.
  • Explain the significance of the IX Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Assess the implications and impact of a potential second Constitutional Convention.
  • Develop an appropriate listing of rights students have in school.


Materials


Optional


Additional Resources

  • Jamin Raskin: We the Students: Supreme Court Cases For and About Students.
  • Richard Labunski: The Second Constitutional Convention: How The American People Can Take Back Their Government.
  • Richard Bernstein: Amending America: If We Love the Constitution So Much, Why Do We Keep Trying to Change It?
  • Amending the Constitution


Background
Most people do not understand the amendment process. There are, in fact, two ways to amend the United States Constitution. The traditional way is through Congressional initiative but there is also the possibility of bypassing Congress by calling a new convention of the states. This actually came close to happening in the 1980's in reference to the popular demands for a balanced budget amendment. Regardless, it remains extremely difficult to change the Constitution. It has happened only 27 times in history—the first 10 Amendments (the Bill of Rights) were ratified almost immediately after the adoption of the Constitution. Over the ensuing two hundred plus years, the document has been amended only 17 more times. The most recent amendment was in 1992 which involves pay raises for Congress. Interestingly, this amendment was proposed in 1789 and was written by James Madison.