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Suppose the First Amendment had never been ratified. Could Congress pass a bill with the same wording, but also prohibiting then from repealing it?

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  • I am assuming implicitly that this question assumes that this would be done without complying with the requirements for a constitutional amendment.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 28 at 22:02
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    @ohwilleke yes, just a normal bill passed by Congress other than its "unrepealable" clause.
    – Someone
    Jul 28 at 22:14

2 Answers 2

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Yes, but that wouldn’t stop the same or a future Congress from repealing it

That is, there’s no rule that says the law can’t contain such a prohibition, just that it would be ineffective. What Congress does, Congress can undo.

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    What if they amended the Senate or House rules to prohibit bills repealing that law or the section in the rules prohibiting repealing the law?
    – Someone
    Jul 28 at 22:14
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    Or make it impossibly difficult, e.g. debate must continue for at least ten years
    – Someone
    Jul 28 at 22:15
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    @Someone Not hypothetical, of course. This can be disregarded using the "nuclear option." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_option
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 28 at 22:16
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    @Someone sure, but then they can vote to change the rules.
    – Dale M
    Jul 29 at 1:28
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    @Someone if a chamber decided to throw out all the rules and make new ones, there is no one but themselves who can decide if that is OK or not. The internal operations of each chamber are not justiciable.
    – Dale M
    Jul 29 at 1:38
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A law can never have the force of the Constitution, since a law can always be overturned. A Constitutional Ammendment can also be overturned, but via a specific method outside of Congress alone. Also, since the Constitution has a higher standing than laws, it is more likely to be over-ridden by other Constitutional issues. The Constitution tends to come into conflict with itself fairly often, it is the balancing of different portions that makes Constitutional Law difficult. For example, a law about freedom to practice religion would not have as much weight as a constitutional statement about it.

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