Front Page Titles (by Subject) POINTS TO REMEMBER - Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government
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POINTS TO REMEMBER - James McClellan, Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government 
Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government (3rd ed.) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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POINTS TO REMEMBER
1. The Constitution may be changed formally by amendment, but it also changes as a result of custom, practice, and judicial decisions.
2. Not all constitutional change has the same impact on the distribution of power. Some changes are supplementary in nature and merely refine or clarify a particular provision of the Constitution, while other changes are revisionary and truly alter the basic design of the system.
3. The difficulty of the amendment process assures evolutionary change; the extraordinary or “super majority” requirement assures democratic change that protects the States and sectional interests; the amendment procedure strengthens federalism by giving the States the final say as to whether an amendment should pass or fail. Ironically, most amendments added since 1791 have reduced the power of the States. One of the most far-reaching constitutional changes effected without a clearly authorizing amendment has been the nationalization of the Bill of Rights through the Doctrine of Incorporation.
4. The amendment process recognizes the sovereign right of the American people and the States to change their Constitution or even their form of government. A large share of the amendments that have been introduced over the years have sought to constitutionalize mere legislation and are otherwise inappropriate. There are many inherent limitations to the amendment power.
Though its flow is continuous, the Mississippi River has often changed direction. Its main channel of movement has shifted at times. Its current may be fast or sluggish. Precisely similar are the dynamics of the American Constitution. Throughout its history, the Constitution, as interpreted and applied by each generation, has changed almost without interruption. The Constitution today is different in many respects from the Constitution of 1787. A mere reading of the document itself, without consulting Supreme Court opinions, the history books, legal treatises, and other extrinsic aids, would give the student not only a meager understanding of what the Constitution meant in 1787 but in many ways a misunderstanding of what it means today.
Why, it may be asked, should the Constitution change at all? Does it not prescribe a fixed code of conduct for public officials? Does it not represent the “permanent will” of the American people? These questions may be answered in the affirmative, but our response requires some elaboration. It must be borne in mind that political societies, especially in advanced countries like the United States, are not static. Change is inevitable. Society must change—and slow change, we might add, is the means of its preservation, like the human body’s perpetual renewal. If society changes, so too must its constitution, lest it fall by the wayside as an outmoded relic of the past. The Framers of the American Constitution understood this. That is why they wrote Article V into the Constitution, which sets forth the procedure to be followed for amending the Constitution.