Article V: The Comatose Article of Our Living Constitution?

Capacity for steady–even startling-development and relative incapacity for formal change, are twin features of American constitutionalism often noticed but seldom analyzed conjointly. Even the most stalwart supporters of the status quo do not want an unamendable Constitution, but disagreement as to how change should be effected, and the scope of it, runs deep. Indeed, this is the central problem of Marbury v. Madison. That case was the effective innovator of judicial review, our “real” system for developmental constitutionalism. Interestingly, it also was one of the quite rare instances when a seemingly simple constitutional text was at issue (scope of Supreme Court original jurisdiction), one readily susceptible of formal amendment without raising larger issues of structure or policy for the rest of our public law system.