HGov: Amendments


The Constitution was designed to adapt to the changing times while still preserving the basic forms and principles of government. Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed and ratified in two ways. An amendment is proposed at the national level but is ratified in a state-by-state process. One method of proposing an amendment is by a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. The other way is for two-thirds of the states to ask Congress to call a convention. One method for ratifying a proposed amendment is for the legislatures in three-fourths of the states to vote on it.  The other method is for the states to hold special conventions and then have three-fourths of the conventions approve it.bill of rights

The United States Constitution is unusually difficult to amend.  Because any amendment can be blocked by thirteen states withholding approval, in either of their two houses, amendments don’t come easy.  In fact, only 27 amendments have been ratified since the Constitution became effective, and ten of those ratifications occurred almost immediately, known as the Bill of Rights. 

The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution shortly after its ratification. These amendments guarantee certain political, procedural, and property rights against infringement by the national government.

1st Amendment
People have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the Government. 1791.

2nd Amendment
People have the right to have a weapon to protect themselves. 1791.

3rd Amendment
Soldiers cannot take or live in a person’s house. 1791.

4th Amendment
The government cannot arrest a person or search their property unless there is “probable cause.” 1791.

5th Amendment
The government must follow the law (due process) before punishing a person. 1791.

6th Amendment
A person has the right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury. 1791.

7th Amendment
A person has the right to a jury trial for civil cases. 1791.

8th Amendment
The government cannot demand excessive bail or fines, or any cruel and unusual punishment. 1791.

9th Amendment
The Constitution does not include all of the rights of the people and the states. 1791.

10th Amendment
Any powers that the Constitution does not give to the federal government belong to the states. 1791.

amendments-2Outside of the Bill of Rights there are 17 other amendments to the Constitution. The Civil War Amendments: Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen, which were the result of that conflict. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment, similar to the Fifth Amendment, prohibits a state from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the government from denying a person’s right to vote on the basis of race. The later amendments, Sixteen through Twenty-seven, were added in the twentieth century. They deal with a range of topics that reflect some of the changes that occurred in American society during that period such as advances in the status of workers, African Americans, and women.

11th Amendment
Citizens cannot sue states in federal courts. 1795.

12th Amendment
The President and Vice President are elected on a party ticket. 1804.

13th Amendment
Slavery is illegal in the United States. 1865.

14th Amendment
Every person born in the USA is a citizen. An immigrant can become a naturalized citizen. 1868

15th Amendment
All US male citizens have the right to vote. 1870.

16th Amendment
Congress can tax income. 1913.

17th Amendment
The people can elect US Senators. 1913.

18th Amendment
Alcohol is illegal. (Prohibition). 1919.

19th Amendment
All US female citizens have the right to vote. 1920.

20th Amendment
The President is inaugurated in January. Congress begins to meet in January. 1933.

21st Amendment
Alcohol is legal. Each state can make laws about making, selling, and drinking alcohol. 1933.

22nd Amendment
The President cannot serve for more than two terms. 1951.

23rd Amendment
The US Citizens in the District of Columbia have the right to vote for President. 1961.

24th Amendment
It is illegal to make a citizen pay a voting fee or take a reading test to vote. 1964.

25th Amendment
If the president dies or cannot serve, the vice-president becomes president. If both die, the Speaker of the House becomes president. 1967.

26th Amendment
US citizens who are 18 years old or older have the right to vote. 1971.

27th Amendment
Congress must limit when and how much its members are paid. 1992.

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