List of proposed amendments to the United States Constitution

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Hundreds of proposed amendments to the United States Constitution are introduced during each session of the United States Congress. From 1789 through January 3, 2017, approximately 11,699 measures have been proposed to amend the United States Constitution.[1] Collectively, members of the House and Senate typically propose around 200 amendments during each two–year term of Congress.[2] Most however, never get out of the Congressional committees in which they were proposed, and only a fraction of those that do receive enough support to win Congressional approval to actually go through the constitutional ratification process. Some proposed amendments are introduced over and over again in different sessions of Congress. It is also common for a number of identical resolutions to be offered on issues that have widespread public and congressional support.

Since 1789, Congress has sent 33 constitutional amendments to the states for ratification. Of these, 27 have been ratified. The framers of the Constitution, recognizing the difference between regular legislation and constitutional matters, intended that it be difficult to change the Constitution; but not so difficult as to render it an inflexible instrument of government, as the amendment mechanism in the Articles of Confederation, which required a unanimous vote of thirteen states for ratification, had proven to be. Therefore, a less stringent process for amending the Constitution was established in Article V.

Amending process

Amending the United States Constitution is a two-step process. Proposals to amend it must be properly Adopted and Ratified before becoming operative. A proposed amendment may be adopted and sent to the states for ratification by either:

OR
  • A national convention, called by Congress for this purpose, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds (presently 34) of the states.

The latter procedure has never been used. Upon adoption by the Congress or a national convention, an amendment must then be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by special state ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states.

To become part of the Constitution, an adopted amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress):

  • The legislatures of three-fourths (presently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period—if any;
OR
  • State ratifying conventions in three-fourths (presently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period—if any.

The decision of which ratification method will be used for any given amendment is Congress' alone to make.[3] Only for the 21st amendment was the latter procedure invoked and followed. Upon being properly ratified, an amendment becomes an operative addition to the Constitution.[4]

19th century proposals

  • Dueling Ban Amendment, proposed in 1838, after Representative William Graves killed another congressman, Jonathan Cilley in a duel, would have prohibited any person involved in a duel from holding federal office.[5]
  • The Crittenden Compromise, a joint resolution that included six constitutional amendments that would protect slavery. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate rejected it in 1861 and Abraham Lincoln was elected on a platform that opposed the expansion of slavery[6]. The South's reaction to the rejection paved the way for the secession of the Confederate states and the American Civil War.
  • Christian Amendment, proposed first in February 1863, would have added acknowledgment of the Christian God in the Preamble to the Constitution. Similar amendments were proposed in 1874, 1896 and 1910 with none passing. The last attempt in 1954 did not come to a vote.
  • Blaine Amendment, proposed in 1875, would have banned public funds from going to religious purposes, in order to prevent Catholics from taking advantage of such funds. Though it failed to pass, many states adopted such provisions.

20th century proposals

  • Anti-Miscegenation Amendment was proposed by Representative Seaborn Roddenbery, a Democrat from Georgia, in 1912 to forbid interracial marriages nationwide. Similar amendments were proposed by Congressman Andrew King, a Missourian Democrat, in 1871 and by Senator Coleman Blease, a South Carolinian Democrat, in 1928. None were passed by Congress.
  • Anti-Polygamy Amendment, proposed by Representative Frederick Gillett, a Massachusetts Republican, on January 24, 1914, and supported by former U.S. Senator from Utah, Frank J. Cannon, and by the National Reform Association.[7]
  • Ludlow Amendment was proposed by Representative Louis Ludlow in 1937. This amendment would have heavily reduced America's ability to be involved in war.
  • Bricker Amendment, proposed in 1951 by Ohio Senator John W. Bricker, would have limited the federal government's treaty-making power. Opposed by President Dwight Eisenhower, it failed twice to reach the threshold of two-thirds of voting members necessary for passage, the first time by eight votes and the second time by a single vote.[8]
  • Death Penalty Abolition Amendment was proposed in 1990, 1992, 1993, and 1995 by Representative Henry González to prohibit the imposition of capital punishment "by any State, Territory, or other jurisdiction within the United States". The amendment was referred to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, but never made it out of committee.
  • Flag Desecration Amendment was first proposed in 1968 to give Congress the power to make acts such as flag burning illegal. During each term of Congress from 1995 to 2005, the proposed amendment was passed by the House of Representatives, but never by the Senate, coming closest during voting on June 27, 2006, with 66 in support and 34 opposed (one vote short).
  • Human Life Amendment, first proposed in 1973, would overturn the Roe v. Wade court ruling. A total of 330 proposals using varying texts have been proposed with almost all dying in committee. The only version that reached a formal floor vote, the Hatch-Eagleton Amendment, was rejected by 18 votes in the Senate on June 28, 1983.

21st century proposals

See also

References

  1. ^ "Measures Proposed to Amend the Constitution". Washington, D.C.: United States Senate. Retrieved August 21, 2017. 
  2. ^ "C-SPAN's Capitol Questions". Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  3. ^ "Proposed Amendments - Constitution Day - College of Arts & Sciences - Clayton State University". Retrieved March 29, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Transcript of the Constitution of the United States - Official Text". www.archives.gov. Retrieved 2016-07-29. 
  5. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (March 9, 2016). "We've tried to amend the Constitution 11,000 times, and not all the proposals were good". Washington, D.C.: the Washington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2017. 
  6. ^ Citation Needed
  7. ^ Iversen, Joan (1997). The Antipolygamy Controversy in U.S. Women's Movements: 1880-1925: A Debate on the American Home. NY: Routledge. pp. 243–4. ISBN 9780815320791. 
  8. ^ "Bricker Amendment". Ohio History Central. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  9. ^ James V. Saturno, “A Balanced Budget Amendment Constitutional Amendment: Procedural Issues and Legislative History,” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress No. 98-671, August 5, 1998.
  10. ^ 108th Congress, H.J.Res. 46 at Congress.gov
  11. ^ 108th Congress, H.J.Res. 26 at Congress.gov
  12. ^ "GovTrack: H. J. Res. 103 108th]: Text of Legislation, Introduced in House". Govtrack.us. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  13. ^ "Statement of Chairman Orrin G. Hatch Before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary". Hatch.senate.gov. January 27, 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-04-23. 
  14. ^ 109th Congress, S.J.Res. 6 at Congress.gov
  15. ^ 111th Congress, H.J.Res. 5. Introduced January 6, 2009.
  16. ^ 101st Congress, S.J.Res. 36. Sponsored by Harry Reid. January 31, 1989.
  17. ^ "Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President. (2013; 113th Congress H.J.Res. 15) - GovTrack.us". GovTrack.us. Retrieved March 29, 2016. 
  18. ^ 111th Congress, S.J.Res. 6 at Congress.gov
  19. ^ 111th Congress, S.J.Res. 11 at Congress.gov
  20. ^ 111th Congress, S.J.Res. 21 at Congress.gov
  21. ^ 112th Congress, H.J.Res. 88 at Congress.gov
  22. ^ Remsen, Nancy (December 8, 2011). "Sen. Bernie Sanders, I–Vt., offers constitutional amendment on corporate "citizenship"". The Burlington Free Press. 
  23. ^ Saving American Democracy Amendment
  24. ^ Saving American Democracy Amendment. 8 Dec 2011. Sanders Senate web site
  25. ^ 107th Congress, H.J.Res. 72
  26. ^ 108th Congress, H.J.Res. 28
  27. ^ 109th Congress, H.J.Res. 28
  28. ^ 110th Congress, H.J.Res. 28
  29. ^ 111th Congress, H.J.Res. 28
  30. ^ 112th Congress, H.J.Res. 28
  31. ^ Press release (May 13, 2013). "Pocan and Ellison Announce Right to Vote Amendment". Congressman Mark Pocan. 
  32. ^ "H.J.Res. 29 - Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only". Congress.gov. Library of Congress. 
  33. ^ "H.J.Res. 48 - Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only". Congress.gov. Library of Congress. 
  34. ^ "H.J.Res. 48 - Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only". Congress.gov. Library of Congress. 
  35. ^ "We the People Amendment". movetoamend.org. Move to Amend. 
  36. ^ "S.J.Res.19 - A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections". Congress.gov. Library of Congress. 
  37. ^ "H.J.Res.119 - Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections". Congress.gov. Library of Congress. 
  38. ^ "The Democracy For All Amendment". Free Speech for People. Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  39. ^ "S.J.Res.5 - A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections". Congress.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  40. ^ "H.J.Res.22 - Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections". Congress.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  41. ^ Press release (November 15, 2016). "Boxer Introduces Bill To Abolish The Electoral College". Senator Barbara Boxer. 
  42. ^ 114th Congress, S.J.Res. 41

External links

  • Amending America: Proposed Amendments to the United States Constitution, 1787 to 2014, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration website
  • GovTrack: Track constitutional amendment proposals introduced in the 115th U.S. Congress


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