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Constitution of the United States, Articles IV, V, VI, and VII
constitutional revision, amendment process, supreme Law, Article V, constitutional convention
Along with the preamble, the first three articles are the most familiar parts of the Constitution. There are, however, four additional articles. Article IV sets up cooperative arrangements between the states and the federal government regarding fugitives and criminals, and requires that states respect one other and one other’s citizens. It also establishes the process by which territories become states, an important function during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Finally, Article IV guarantees a republican—or representative—form of government for all states.
Article V establishes procedures for amending the Constitution. The Founders developed a method for changing the Constitution so that it could be adapted to changing times. To maintain a balance between the power of the federal government and that of the state governments, the amendment process requires approval by majorities of legislative bodies at both the state and federal levels. Only a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress can propose a constitutional revision; the legislatures of three-quarters of the states must then ratify the amendment for it to take effect. The Constitution also provides another amendment method, though it has never been used: The legislatures of two-thirds of the states can call a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Any proposal agreed upon must then be ratified by three-quarters of the states.
Article VI is a catchall article; its most important section establishes the Constitution and the laws of the United States as “the supreme Law of the Land.” Article VII of the Constitution establishes procedures that were used in 1788 and 1789 for the approval and subsequent adoption of the document by the states.
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