Article V of the United States Constitution describes the process by which the document may be amended. The Constitution can be amended, Article V says, when two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states choose to do so (or when a constitutional convention is called and three-quarters of the states ratify). It then goes on to place a limitation on the content of potential amendments:
The Senate, if you remember, gives two seats to each state, regardless of the state’s population. So North Dakota has the same number of senators as California, even though California has far, far more people. The meaning of the above Article V clause is pretty clear: you can’t pass an amendment that would give one state fewer senators than other states unless that state consents. Fine.
So let’s say the whole country is sick of Rhode Island running its yap in the Senate. Every other state hates Rhode Island and would dearly love to strip it of its senators. Rhode Island, naturally, opposes this. Article V says that the other states can’t amend the Constitution to deprive Rhode Island of its senators without its consent.
Here’s my question, though.
- Could the other states pass two amendments, the first deleting the sentence of Article V forbidding them from depriving Rhode Island of equal suffrage in the Senate, and the second taking Rhode Island’s senators away?
- If so, how many states would it take to do that? Would three-quarters be sufficient, as with a regular amendment? Either way, doesn’t this render that portion of Article V completely empty?
- If not, what’s the constitutional authority that says that Article V itself can’t be amended? Is there anything else that can’t be amended, even though the Constitution doesn’t say so explicitly?