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Constitutional FAQ Answer #138

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Q138. "In what instances is a 'Supermajority' required under the US Constitution?"

A. The specific instances in which the US Constitution requires a super-majority are limited to:

  • Convicting an Impeachment (2/3 majority in the Senate — Article 1, Section 3)
  • Expulsion of a member of one house of Congress (2/3 vote of the house in question — Article 1, Section 5)
  • Override a Presidential Veto (2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate — Article 1, Section 7)
  • Ratify a treaty (2/3 majority in the Senate — Article 2, Section 2)
  • Passing of a Constitutional Amendment by Congress (2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate — Article 5)
  • Calling for a Constitutional Convention (2/3 of the state legislatures — Article 5)
  • Ratifying a Constitutional Amendment (3/4 of the states — Article 5)
  • Restore the ability of certain rebels to serve in the government (2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate — 14th Amendment)
  • Approval of removal of the President from his position after the Vice President and the Cabinet approve such removal and after the President contests the removal (2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate 25th Amendment)

Additionally, it should be noted the in a few cases, the Constitution requires a super-majority for a quorum. A quorum is that number of members of a body that are required for the body to do any work. For example, there is usually a 50% quorum requirement in the House and Senate — at least half the members must be present. In the Constitution, super-majority quorums are required as follows:

  • Choice of a President in the House when no majority of electoral votes is achieved (member or members from 2/3 of the states 12th Amendment)
  • Choice of a Vice President in the Senate when no majority of electoral votes is achieved (2/3 of all Senators 12th Amendment)

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