Chapter Review Summary: The Ratification Referendum
These questions need to be answered for the paper please.
1- Statement of the issue – one or two sentences.
2- Review of the authors arguments – one or two paragraphs stating at least three major points made by
3- Comparison of arguments – at least one paragraph contrasting what each author had to say.
4 – Your opinion – at least one paragraph explaining either
a) why you agree with one of another, or
b)why you disagree with all the authors.
5- Discussion Question – an open ended question that you derive from the readings.
This is the textbook name just in case you need to know or if you want to quote anything. “The Enduring
Debate (Norton, 2014)
CHAPTER REVIEW SUMMARY 2
Changing the constitution of the United States is undeniably one of the most difficult processes
as it was set by its framers with an intention of maintaining it stability by discouraging
unwarranted alterations unless there is an almost universal agreement among the citizenry.
Statement of the issue
The main issue discussed in this chapter mainly concerns the difficulty of the process of
changing the Constitution of the United States through ratification and approval.
A review of the authors’ arguments
A review of the arguments presented by the authors of these two chapters show a significant
variation between the underlying issues and approaches that ought to be addressed in order to
make sure that the Constitution stability is guaranteed. A critical evaluation of the arguments
revives the long standing discrepancy among the Americans on how the constitutional change
process should proceed to allow any ratification or approval. For instance, Sanford Levinson
presents crucial arguments in support of the strict construction approach in making any
amendments to the Constitution. The author makes various key points that not only highlight the
need for the people’s power to make choices but also the strict procedures through which they
have to be made. In fact, the three poignant point made by the author are: 1) in the attempts to
make any constitutional changes, the people’s power to make informed choices must always be
respected and carried out through the laid down strict procedures such as convention referenda or
general elections clauses such as the one in the New York state constitution which allows the
people to make a choice on whether they need a referendum after every 20 years; 2) the people
have to acknowledge institutional practices by not only adjusting to them but also adjusting to
goals of institutional practices; and 3) the need to defend the framers compromises entrenched in
CHAPTER REVIEW SUMMARY 3
Article V through stringent adherence to the strict approach to constitutional change, while
giving an opportunity for amendments based on changing realities e.g. through courts.
On the other hand, Eric Lane and Michael Oreskes raise pertinent issues with democracy as the
modality through which the Constitution must be changed. For example they discuss vital points
on why democracy has been used by most governments across the world as a mob rule through
which choices are forced down people’s throats. The authors also point that democracy in
America is long overdue and its hindered by compromising where the majority will always have
their way while the minority have their say without necessary action been taken. In addition, the
authors point out that democracy is fragile because in pursuit of self-interests, there would be
willingness to trample the democracy of others in the form of compromising and consensus
which may be rarely achieved.
Comparison of arguments
A comparison of argument presented in the two sets of discussion, it is evidently clear that
significant difference still exist on the appropriate approach to guide the process of constitutional
change in America. For instance, Levinson supports the strict construction approach which
makes it extremely difficult to make changes to the constitution while at the same time
acknowledging other methods to achieve so with regards to the power vested on peoples to make
their own choices. Alternatively, Lane and Oreskes point out the need for democracy to be in the
forefront to initiate such changes through compromise and consensus. However, they also
highlight critical issues that must be considered carefully since democracy is fragile and
tendency for its use in pursuit of self-interest at the expense of others is also possible.
CHAPTER REVIEW SUMMARY 4
My opinion as to why I agree with arguments presented by Sanford Levinson on his support for
the more rigid and strict construction of the Constitution is because this approach plays a critical
role in making sure that the integrity and stability of the Constitution is maintained. It is due to
the strict construction of the Constitution as discussed by Levinson that has made sure very few
constitutional changes have been ratified and/or approved despite the numerous amendment
proposals that have been received since its promulgation. Through this approach to constitutional
change the Congress has been allowed minimal implied powers to always ensure that the
government remains small and that it does not overstep its mandate by making unwarranted
amendments to the Constitution in the disguise of democracy, which not only allow the majority
to have their irrespective of the dissenting voices of the minority.
From the readings provided in chapter 10 and 11, it is highly imperative to consider the
underlying issues that inform the quest of Americans to amend the Constitution with regards to
changing realities and modalities of how the Constitution has guided policies of previous and
current governments. Hence, this begs the discussion question that follows: “In the quest for
compromise and consensus on the amendments required on the Constitution, what are the key
issues that ought to be addressed to promote Americans’ connection with the Constitution rather
than drifting from it?”