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Amending the Constitution: What Happens?


From Dateline (May 6, 2004)

Gordon Bakken
Gordon Bakken, professor of history and an expert on the U.S. Constitution, poses among the volumes of law books in the Pollak library, including a set of state constitutional law books he recently donated to campus. In addition to teaching, Bakken is a prolific writer and author of more than a dozen books.

President George W. Bush recently announced that he supports a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriages. But what does amending the Constitution really mean? How does this affect states’ rights? Gordon Bakken, professor of history and an expert on constitutional law, answers some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding this controversy.

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Q&A with bakken

• Gordon Bakken

• What legal issues are at stake if President Bush succeeds in amending the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages?

• What is Article V?

• What is the law of marriage?

• Since standards on morals seem to change, you're concerned when they are used to effect Constitutional changes?

What would a constitutional amendment do to states' rights?

• When was the last time there was an attempt to amend the Constitution?

• What happens when states challenge the federal government? It seems like the states would like to retain control.

• So adding an amendment is pretty difficult?


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