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The European Union (EU) stands on the threshold of a ratification process for a new constitution. At present, agreement of all EU states is required for ratification. As a consequence of disagreements over many aspects of the European Constitution, however, the future of the document is at risk. America once faced a similar challenge. The U.S. Constitution almost certainly would not have been ratified if agreement of all states had been required. This paper describes how the U.S. Constitutional Convention developed the "Rule of Nine" — that nine states out of 13 were needed for ratification — and briefly describes the state-by-state ratification process. Finally, it suggests that U.S. history may provide a relevant lesson for the EU.

This publication was supported by the RAND Corporation using its own funds.

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