Publication Date



Columbia Law Review Forum


Amending the federal Constitution has been instrumental in creating and developing the North American constitutional project. The difficult process embedded in Article V has been used by “The People” to expand rights and democracy, fix procedural deficiencies, and even overturn Supreme Court precedent. Yet, it is no secret that the amendment process has fallen to the wayside and that a constitutional amendment in our present age of extreme political polarization feels impossible.

Our nation’s history suggests otherwise. In John F. Kowal and Wilfred U. Codrington III’s exciting and inspirational new book, they explain that interest in constitutional amendments has coincided with periods of discontent, transformational social change, and even extreme political polarization. This Piece tracks the authors’ historical and jurisprudential arguments, focusing on their claim that The People have used the Constitution to welcome marginalized groups into the nation’s political community despite their exclusion at the Founding. Although that historical claim is accurate, the campaign for a fully inclusive democracy remains unfulfilled for many. One of those groups is the people of the unincorporated territories of the United States. This Piece examines how and why the people of the unincorporated territories were never meant to be a part of our nation. It then takes the lessons from Kowal and Codrington’s book and interrogates what a constitutional amendment fully welcoming the unincorporated territories into our political fold would look like.



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Columbia Law School


Constitutional Law | Law | Law and Race



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