Amending the Vermont Constitution: Not An Easy Job Nor Should It Be! Video Essay Demo
Vermonts constitution is one of the oldest state constitutions. The version that was adopted in 1793 is still in use today. By design, Vermonts constitution is also very difficult to amend. For over two centuries, Vermont state government has remained stable, with very few changes. Our constitution has provided this cornerstone of political steadiness.
The Vermont Constitution was written here, in this tavern. The constitutional convention began on July 2 nd and almost ended, without ratification, after five days of drafting and debating. The delegates were told that Fort Ticonderoga had just fallen to the British, and many wanted to return home in order to protect their families and farms. As they were preparing to leave a violent thunderstorm developed, trapping them. This gave them time to finish the constitution.
The rules about how Vermonts constitution could be amended have changed because when the constitution was first written they wanted to be able to make changes to it as the need arose. Amending the Constitution In 1870, the constitutional convention changed the way the constitution was to be amended. They made it much more difficult to amend the constitution. As a result, Vermont has one of the least amended constitutions in the country!
The Vermont Constitution Why did lawmakers make it so hard to pass an amendment? The goal of a constitution is to create a stable government that will endure over time. If the Constitution can be changed too easily then whenever people are unhappy with the government they can respond with an amendment. It is not uncommon for an issue to excite peoples interest only to seem less important in a year or two. If a proposed change to the constitution is passed after many years of consideration and debate then it is likely to be a change that will make the government stronger over time. If a proposal does not make it through the process it is a sign that it was probably not necessary after all.
Amending the Amending Process The amending process outlined in Vermonts constitution has been altered only three times since it was first adopted. The reason for this is simple: The difficult process has been very effective in preventing unnecessary changes. Any proposed changes would require thorough, thoughtful deliberation. Because of this, very few new ideas stand up to the rigor and scrutiny of the process. The legislature and people of Vermont have seen no reason to devise a new, easier way of amending our constitution.
Amending the Vermont Constitution An Introduction The amending process for the Vermont Constitution can be found in Chapter II, Sec. 72. Proposals of amendment can be initiated every four years by the senate. A proposal must be approved by two/thirds of the senate (20 votes) before being sent to the house, where a majority vote is required for passage. Successful proposals are taken up by the succeeding legislature, the intervening election allowing voters an opportunity to instruct their legislators on whether to support any amendments. The proposal must then survive majority votes of the senate and house, before being placed before the voters for ratification. The amending process has itself been amended three times. From 1777 until 1870 amendments could be proposed every seven years by a 13- member body, elected statewide, known as the Council of Censors. From 1870 to 1974 proposals had to go through the legislative/popular ratification process outlined above, though proposals could only be made every ten years. In 1974 the ten-year time lock was reduced to the current four-year period, beginning in 1975.
Due to our amending process, changes to the Vermont Constitution can only be made after extensive research on the matter. This drawn out procedure lets everyone in Vermont, representatives and citizens, see, discuss, and make an educated decision on the matter. In the end, Vermonts constitution prevents many from voting in a way that they would later regret.
In Conclusion… The amending process of the Vermont Constitution is not easily or lightly changed, which has provided great stability in our state government. If the difficulty of amending the Vermont Constitution was a significant problem, the legislature and citizens would have changed the process by now. Of course, needed changes have been made to Vermonts constitution, showing that the process is not impossible and can be completed if deemed necessary. The complexity of the amending process prevents unnecessary and rash changes from being made. Vermonts constitution is perfect the way it is!
Bibliography Adkisson, Will. "Athens vs. America." Vermont Secretary of State - Deborah L. Markowitz. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. http://www.sec.state.vt.us/kids/contest/2009_winners.Athens vs. America. Riley-Sheppard, Anna. "Discussing Vermont's Constitution: Should It Be Easier To Amend?" Vermont Secretary of State - Deborah L. Markowitz. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. http://www.sec.state.vt.us/kids/contest/2009_winners. Discussing the Vermont Constitution: Should It Be Easier To Amend.http://www.sec.state.vt.us/kids/contest/2009_winners. Discussing the Vermont Constitution: Should It Be Easier To Elections Page: Vermont Elections Division. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. http://vermont- elections.org/soshome.htm.http://vermont- elections.org/soshome.htm Constitution Booklet: Markowitz, Deb. Revolution, Rights and Rules: A Student's Guide to the Vermont Constitution. Print. 2009.