Each week, The Spokesman-Review examines one question from the Naturalization Test immigrants must pass to become United States citizens.

Today’s question: What is the supreme law of the land?

Since 1789 when it took effect, the U.S. Constitution has been the supreme law of the land, setting up a republic with powers and responsibilities divided among three branches of government.

The Constitution – drafted, debated and adopted at a convention of 55 men from the original 13 states – includes Article V, the rules on how to make changes to the original plan. It was something the Founding Fathers quickly realized would be necessary just to get the Constitution ratified.

Ten amendments guaranteeing certain individual freedoms, now known as the Bill of Rights, were passed by Congress and sent to the states in the first two years of the republic.

Cornell Clayton.

Calls for a constitutional amendment convention are not new, said Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University. During the Progressive Era at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, supporters of such reforms as women’s suffrage and direct election of U.S. senators were pushing for a convention until Congress acted to pass those amendments through the other method.

In response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the expansion of the federal government, some conservatives began talking about a convention for amendments to rein in that growth, Clayton said.

Find out more

The Spokesman-Review