I'm sure most of us know the two most common methods of amending the Constitution by now - the "traditional" method which requires an act of Congress by two-thirds majority; a Constitution Convention called for by two-thirds of the legislatures of the states (37 states - has never been done).
I came across this little tidbit the other day while I was doing some research...
One other way of amendment is also not mentioned in the Constitution, and, because it has never been used, is lost on many students of the Constitution. Framer James Wilson, however, endorsed popular amendment, and the topic is examined at some length in Akhil Reed Amar's book, The Constitution: A Biography.
The notion of popular amendment comes from the conceptual framework of the Constitution. Its power derives from the people; it was adopted by the people; it functions at the behest of and for the benefit of the people. Given all this, if the people, as a whole, somehow demanded a change to the Constitution, should not the people be allowed to make such a change? As Wilson noted in 1787, "... the people may change the constitutions whenever and however they please. This is a right of which no positive institution can ever deprive them."
It makes sense - if the people demand a change, it should be made. The change may not be the will of the Congress, nor of the states, so the two enumerated methods of amendment might not be practical, for they rely on these institutions. The real issue is not in the conceptual. It is a reality that if the people do not support the Constitution in its present form, it cannot survive. The real issue is in the practical. Since there is no process specified, what would the process be? There are no national elections today - even elections for the presidency are local. There is no precedent for a national referendum. It is easy to say that the Constitution can be changed by the people in any way the people wish. Actually making the change is another story altogether.
Suffice it to say, for now, that the notion of popular amendment makes perfect sense in the constitutional framework, even though the details of affecting popular amendment could be impossible to resolve.
I'm just throwing this out there in case that might be a few "legal eagles" amongst us who might be able to provide some insight (the link to the book did not work and I've not had time to do any additional research).
Now, before we all start getting too excited, it should be pointed out that this has never been done either and indeed it seems there is a big question as to how it could even be done - but it is thought provoking none the less.
I can only imagine how the FairTax might do given this scenario. As for my own personal opinion, this would equate to a "mob rule" kind of thing - OK for a true democracy, but not good for a Representative Republic such as we have. Again, very thought provoking to say the least. Anybody know anything about a "National Referendum"?
My 3 cents (inflation).