Article V of the United States Constitution sets out the amend- ment procedure, which consists of two stages, proposal and ratification. Each stage, in turn, offers two alternative procedures which can be interchanged to provide four means of effecting constitutional alteration. An amendment may be proposed either by a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress or by a national convention assembled upon proper application by the legislatures of two-thirds of the states; and an amendment may be ratified, as Congress decides, either by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by conventions in three-fourths of the states. To date, the legislative mode of ratification has been selected for all but one of the 32 resolutions submitted to the states, but despite the frequency of its use as contrasted to the convention method, very little is known about its origin and evolution. In particular, there are a number of constitutional, as well as practical questions which require definitive answers. For example, the resolution guaranteeing equal rights to women (ERA) is currently before the states where it has been approved by either 31 or 33 legislatures, depending upon whether ratification can be validly rescinded. To date, Nebraska and Tennessee have revoked their ratification and several other states are contem- plating similar action.
Philip L. Martin,
State Legislative Ratification of Federal Constitutional Amendments: An Overview,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol9/iss2/4