States' Rights Amendments (1963–1967)

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The decisions of the warren court radically altered the constitutional balance of power to the disadvantage of the several states. In 1963, the Council of State Governments recommended three constitutional amendments that would, respectively, have established a third variation of the amending process by which the states could alter the Constitution without the participation of Congress; denied the Supreme Court jurisdiction over apportionment of state legislatures; and created a Court of the Union, comprising all the state chief justices, with power to overrule the Supreme Court on questions of federal-state relations.

The amendments were introduced in Congress by Senator J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina but were buried in committee. Supporters hoped to have two-thirds of the state legislatures petition Congress and thereby oblige Congress to call an amending convention. The first and third proposals encountered widespread opposition—including public denunciation by Chief Justice earl warren. But the 1964 reapportionment decisions, reynolds v. sims and Lucas v. Forty-Fourth General Assembly, spurred the legislatures to act on the remaining proposal. By the time the agitation ceased in 1967, thirty-three states (only one less than necessary) had petitioned for an amending convention on the apportionment issue.

Dennis J. Mahoney

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States' Rights Amendments (1963–1967)

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