Is the “Compact for America” Procedure to Amend the Constitution Constitutional?—An Update

Because of widespread interest in the Article V Information Center’s report on the legality of the “Compact for America” approach to amending the Constitution, we are reprinting it here.

Distilled to its essence, the “Compact” approach is unconstitutional because it seeks to change, through state legislative action (statutes and interstate compacts), the amendment procedure specified in Article V of the Constitution.

A one-page summary of the plan issued by the Compact campaign states its goal plainly: “Purpose—to greatly simplify the amendment process by combining all the steps required of the state legislature . . . ”

One problem with that is the U.S. Supreme Court has a different view. As the justices stated in the unanimous opinion in Hawke v. Smith, one of the Court’s most important Article V cases, “It is not the function of courts or legislative bodies, national or state, to alter the method which the Constitution has fixed.” There is little chance, therefore, that the “Compact” would survive a judicial challenge.