Congress has the authority to pass legislation to amend the Constitution and submit it to the states for ratification. Why would a statement that they might do such a thing, exercise their Constitutional authority, constitute a threat?

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The prospect of creating a constitutional amendment, although difficult to carry out, could be construed as a threat by people opposed to the basis for such an amendment. This is true even though it is, as the question points out, very much within the authority of Congress to oppose such...

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The prospect of creating a constitutional amendment, although difficult to carry out, could be construed as a threat by people opposed to the basis for such an amendment. This is true even though it is, as the question points out, very much within the authority of Congress to oppose such an amendment.

For example, it is conceivable that Congress could, in response to what it viewed as unreasonable budgetary demands by a president, respond by threatening to pass a balanced budget amendment. Some states actually have such an amendment. Congress could also threaten to respond to violations of federal law at the state level by creating an amendment that addressed them.

However, today, any threat to pass a constitutional amendment for such purposes would be hollow. Amendments are, by constitutional design, very difficult to pass. This is why there have been only twenty-seven of them (including the Bill of Rights, ratified at once) in the history of the United States. In order for Congress to pass an amendment, two-thirds of each house would have to approve it. Then, the proposed amendment would have to be approved by three-quarters of the states. A subject controversial enough to lead to threats of passing a constitutional amendment would almost certainly not garner such support. While Congress certainly has the authority to issue such a threat, it would be practically impossible to carry it out under normal political circumstances.

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