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27 Amendments

United States Bill of Rights

The Constitution of the United States provides two methods for making amendments. Only one has ever been used. The United States Congress can pass a bill setting out a proposed amendment by a vote of two thirds in each body. Or a constitutional convention can be convened by a vote of two thirds of the state legislatures, which will propose one or more amendments. This has never happened and its unclear exactly how such a constitutional convention would operate.

In either case, the amendments to the U.S. Constitution only become effective after being ratified by 3/4 of the states. Some amendments are quickly ratified. The 27th Amendment, on the other hand, was proposed in 1792 and did not achieve final ratification until 1992. Unlike all proposed amendments since Prohibition, this amendment had no deadline.

Some prominent amendments never are ratified. The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed in 1972 and was ratified by 34 of the necessary 38 states. However, advocates could not get the last four states necessary and the Congressionally-imposed deadline for ratification passed.

The first 10 amendments were soon passed and are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. Another cluster of amendments was passed following the Civil War and sought to enshrine the rights of the newly freed slaves.

The United States Constitution now has 25 functioning amendments. There have been 27 ratified in total, but one of these, the 18th, was Prohibition and another, the 21st, was the repeal of Prohibition.

Amendment Ratified Description
1St 1791 Rights to Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, Petition
2nd 1791 Right to Bear Arms
3rd   1791 Quartering of Soldiers
4th 1791 Search and Seizure
5th 1791 Grand Jury, Double Jeopardy, Self-Incrimination, Due Process
6th 1791 Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions: Rights to Jury Trial, to Confront Opposing Witnesses and to Counsel
7th 1791 Jury Trial
8th 1791 Protections against Excessive Bail, Cruel and Unusual Punishment
9th 1791 Non-Enumerated Rights
10th 1791 Rights Reserved to States
11th 1795 Suits Against a State
12th 1804 Election of President and Vice-President
13th 1865 Abolition of Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
14th 1868 Protects rights against state infringements, defines citizenship, prohibits states from interfering with privileges and immunities, requires due process and equal protection, punishes states for denying vote, and disqualifies Confederate officials and debts
15th 1870 Voting Rights
16th 1913 Federal Income Tax
17th   Popular Election of Senators
18th 1919 Prohibition
19th 1920 Women’s Right to Vote
20th 1933 Commencement of Presidential Term and Succession
21st 1933 Repeal of 18th Amendment (Prohibition)
22nd 1951 Two-Term Limitation on President
23rd 1961 District of Columbia Presidential Vote
24th 1964 Abolition of Poll Tax Requirement in Federal Elections
25th 1967 Presidential Vacancy, Disability and Inability
26st 1971 Right to Vote at Age 18
27th 1992 Congressional Compensation
assignment_turned_in Registrations
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