There are two paths for making a proposed amendment part of the Constitution, and therefore, into law. The first path is this: An amendment is proposed in the U.S. Congress, the law-making body of the United States, which is composed of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Two-thirds of both houses must then approve the amendment; if they do not, then the proposal ends at this point. If approved in both houses, the proposed amendment is sent to the legislatures (or conventions) of each state of the union. Three-fourths of all state legislatures must then approve it according to their own rules. Once three-fourths of the states have approved the amendment, it becomes law; if approval is not given by three-fourths of the states, the amendment fails to become law.
The second path is this: The legislatures (law-making bodies) of two-thirds of the states ask for an amendment to be made to the Constitution. Congress then calls a convention to propose it; the proposed amendment becomes a law when it is approved by the legislatures in three-fourths of the states. While this path has never been taken, it is an important provision nonetheless, since it allows for consideration of a popular, state-based proposal.
Further Information: "Great American Documents." Foundation for the U.S. Constitution. [Online] Available http://www.uscon stitution.org/conhomepg1.cfm?whatpage= greatAmerican, October 26, 2000; Jordan, Terry L. The U.S. Constitution: And Fascinating Facts About It. Napier, Ill.: Oak Hill Publishing, 1999; U.S. Constitution. [Online] Available http://www.law.emory.edu/FEDER AL/usconst. html, October 26, 2000.