Five and Some Change

Pencil eraser image

Pencil eraser image

This post is part of a 2012 monthly series of posts on the topic of the U.S. Constitution.

The state of North Carolina witnessed a historic vote this past Tuesday, as a majority of citizens voted and approved legislatively-referred Amendment 1, a ballot initiative to amend the North Carolina Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.  You can read more about NC Amendment 1 on

What about federal amendments and changes to the U.S. Constitution?  What is the process for changing the most important document in the United States?

Article Five of the Constitution describes the process for making changes to the document.  According to Wikipedia, Article Five provides that:

“Amendments may be proposed by either two-thirds of both houses of the United States Congress or by a national convention. This convention can be assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds of the several states. To become part of the Constitution, amendments must then be ratified either by approval of the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or ratifying conventions held in three-fourths of the states. Congress has discretion as to which method of ratification should be used. Any amendment so ratified becomes a valid part of the constitution, provided that no state ‘shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the senate,’ without its consent.”

Do you know which federal amendments have been unanimously ratified by the states?  The answer is:

1 – the Bill of Rights;
2- the Thirteenth Amendment (abolished slavery);
3- the Fourteenth Amendment (provided for equal protection and due process);
4- the Fifteenth Amendment (prohibited racial discrimination in voting); and
5- the Nineteenth Amendment (gave women the federal right to vote).

None of the above changes to the U.S. Constitution could have happened without the existence of Article Five.   You can read the text of Article Five here:

Article Five

Article Five

If you could change the U.S. Constitution or your state’s Constitution, what changes would you make?


The Constitution and Your Pennies

US Penny image

US Penny image

This post is part of a 2012 monthly series of posts on the topic of the U.S. Constitution.

It’s tax time for those of us in the United States.  Do you know which Article of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the right to collect taxes?

The answer is Article I.  To be specific, Section 8 of Article I states that “Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises…” as well as to pay debts for the common defense and general welfare of our country.

Since the reality of paying taxes is a heavy one for so many, I’d like to raise some light-hearted questions about, in Article I Section 8 terms, “the current Coin of the United States.”

What is your favorite U.S. coin?  Does holding a penny, nickel, quarter or dime make you most happy?  Or, do you pay (pun intended) more attention to your debit and credit cards and think the usage of coins has become somewhat antiquated?  In this age of e-commerce, how much loose change do you keep in your pockets or purse these days?

When it comes to coinage, I remember being taught the value of coins as a kid and playing with a coin-sorting machine similar to the Money Miser Coin Sorter, currently being offered on Amazon.  I also recall being given a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar by my parents back in 1979 (Susan B. Anthony was the first non-fictitious woman shown on circulating U.S. coinage).

Over the years, I’ve heard countless people speak using idioms that include the word, “penny,” such as, “That costs a pretty penny” and “A penny saved is a penny earned.”  What about you?  Can you recall any other idioms containing the names of coins?  I’d give a penny for your thoughts. 🙂

And, back to the heavier subject of taxes, remember that our Constitution requires that taxes be collected and the words of one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

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