Unintended Consequences of Constitutional Amendment

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Constitutional amendments, like all laws, may lead to unanticipated and even undesired outcomes. In this collection of original essays, a team of distinguished historians, political scientists, and legal scholars led by award-winning constitutional historian David E. Kyvig examines significant instances in which reform produced something other than the foreseen result. An opening essay examines the intentions of the Constitution's framers in creating an amending mechanism and then explores unexpected uses of that instrument. Thereafter, authors focus on the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments, addressing such subjects as criminal justice procedures, the presidential election system, the Civil War's impact on race and gender relations, the experiment in national prohibition, women's suffrage, and, finally, limits on the presidency. Together these contributions illuminate aspects of constitutional stability and evolution, challenging current thinking about reform within the formal system of change provided by Article V of the Constitution. Forcefully demonstrating that constitutional law is not immune to unanticipated consequences, the eight scholars underscore the need for care, responsibility, and historical awareness in altering the nation's fundamental law.