A Survey of Constitutional Amendments and Their Impact on Change
Just as one can distinguish between changes in a nation's written Constitution and its wider unwritten constitution, so too one can classify alterations in governments and Constitutions according to their relation to the status quo. This chapter examines this topic from the perspective of constitutional amendments. The next chapter will analyze changes which judicial review has initiated while the chapter that follows it will focus on changes initiated by executive orders and legislation.
The idea of progress is an inextricable part of modern Western civilization, 1 and the Darwinian theory of evolution furthered this idea in the last two centuries. 2 Accordingly, when most Americans think of constitutional amendment, they probably think of progressive advancement. Similarly, historians of the amending process, like historians of the American republic itself, often describe amendments as a continual movement toward the progressive realization of a central goal or principle. 3 Before proceeding to affirm his belief that the proper denotation of amendment was simply "alteration or change," a legal writer earlier in this century thus noted that "'amendment' contains in it an element of euphemism, of conceit in the proposer, an assumption that the proposal is an improvement." 4 Reflection would certainly confirm, however, that it is easier to ascertain