- Informal amendments, unlike formal amendments which change the written word of the Constitution, are changes not affecting the written document.
- 1. Congress can pass laws that spell out some of the Constitution's brief provisions.2. Congress can pass laws defining and interpreting the meaning of constitutional provisions. Congressional legislation is an example of the informal process of amending the constitution.
3. Two ways in which Congress may informally amend the Constitution is by enacting laws that expand the brief provisions of the Constitution, and enacting laws that further define expressed powers.
- 1. Presidents have used their powers to delineate unclear constitutional provisions, for example, making a difference between Congress's power to declare war and the President's power to wage war.2. Presidents have extended their authority over foreign policy by making informal executive agreements with representatives of foreign governments, avoiding the constitutional requirement for the Senate to approve formal treaties. Executive agreements are pacts made by a President with heads of a foreign government.
- 1. The nation's courts interpret and apply the Constitution as they see fit, as in Marbury v. Madison, a court case involving the process of informal amendment.2. The Supreme Court has been called "a constitutional convention in continuous session."
- 1. Political Parties have been a major source of informal amendment.2. Political parties have shaped government and its processes by holding political conventions, organizing Congress along party lines, and injecting party politics in the process of presidential appointments.
3. The fact that government in the United States is in many ways government through political party is the result of a long history of informal amendments.
- 1. Each branch of government has developed traditions that fall outside the provisions of the Constitution. Prior to Franklin Roosevelt, there was a tradition of the Executive branch that a president would not serve a third term, however that "custom" was added to the written Constitution through formal amendment. No third term for president.2. An example is the executive advisory board known as the President's cabinet.