List of proposed amendments to the United States Constitution

This list contains proposed amendments to the United States Constitution. Article Five of the United States Constitution prescribes two methods for proposing and two methods for the ratification of an amendment. An amendment may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a national convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. 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. The decision of which ratification method will be used for any given amendment is Congress' alone to make.[1] Only for the 21st amendment was the latter procedure invoked and followed.

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.

Congress has proposed 33 such amendments since 1789. 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.

The framers of the Constitution included a proviso at the end of Article V shielding three clauses in the new frame of government from being amended. They are: Article I, Section 9, Clause 1, concerning the migration and importation of slaves; Article I, Section 9, Clause 4, concerning Congress' taxing power; and, Article I, Section 3, Clause 1, which provides for equal representation of the states in the Senate. These are the only textually entrenched provisions of the Constitution. The shield protecting the first two entrenched clauses was absolute but of limited duration; it was in force only until 1808. The shield protecting the third entrenched clause, though less absolute than that covering the others, is practically permanent; it will be in force until there is unanimous agreement among the states favoring a change.

Beginning in the early 20th century, Congress has usually, but not always, stipulated that an amendment must be ratified by the required number of states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states in order to become part of the Constitution. Congress' authority to set ratification deadline was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939).

The mechanism for amending the United States Constitution was developed during the closing days of the 1787 Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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:


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


Upon being properly ratified, an amendment becomes an operative addition to the Constitution.[3]

Amendments approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification

Ratified Amendments

Twenty-seven Constitutional Amendments have been ratified since the Constitution was put into operation on March 4, 1789. The first ten amendments were adopted and ratified simultaneously and are known collectively as the Bill of Rights.

Prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Protects the right to keep and bear arms.
Prohibits the forced quartering of soldiers during peacetime.
Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets out requirements for search warrants based on probable cause as determined by a neutral judge or magistrate.
Sets out rules for indictment by grand jury and eminent domain, protects the right to due process, and prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy.
Protects the right to a fair and speedy public trial by jury, including the rights to be notified of the accusations, to confront the accuser, to obtain witnesses and to retain counsel.
Provides for the right to trial by jury in certain civil cases, according to common law.
Prohibits excessive fines and excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.
Protects rights not enumerated in the constitution.
Limits the powers of the federal government to those delegated to it by the Constitution.
Makes states immune from suits from out-of-state citizens and foreigners not living within the state borders; lays the foundation for sovereign immunity.
Revises presidential election procedures.
Abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
Defines citizenship, contains the Privileges or Immunities Clause, the Due Process Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and deals with post-Civil War issues.
Prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Permits the federal government to collect income tax.
Establishes the direct election of United States Senators by popular vote.
Prohibits the manufacturing or sale of alcohol within the United States.
(repealed by Twenty-first Amendment.)
Prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on sex.
Changes the date on which the terms of the President and Vice President (January 20) and Senators and Representatives (January 3) end and begin.
(Sections 1 and 2 took effect October 15, 1933, as stipulated by Section 5; therefore, new terms of senators and representatives began January 3, 1935 and the new terms of the President and Vice President began on January 20, 1937.)[4]
Repeals the 18th Amendment and prohibits the transportation or importation into the United States of alcohol for delivery or use in violation of applicable laws.
Limits the number of times that a person can be elected president to twice, and the number of times a person who has served more than two years of a term to which someone else was elected to once.
Grants the Washington, D.C. electors in the Electoral College.
Prohibits the revocation of voting rights for the non-payment of a poll tax.
Addresses succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities.
Prohibits the denial of the right of US citizens, eighteen years of age or older, to vote on account of age.
Delays laws affecting Congressional salary from taking effect until after the next election of representatives.

Unratified Amendments

Six amendments adopted by Congress and sent to the states have not been ratified by the required number of states. Four of these, including one of the twelve Bill of Rights amendments, are still technically open and pending. The other two amendments are closed and no longer pending, one by terms set within the Congressional Resolution proposing it (†) and the other by terms set within the body of the amendment (‡).

Would strictly regulate the size of congressional districts for representation in the House of Representatives.
Would strip citizenship from any United States citizen who accepts a title of nobility from a foreign country.
Would make "domestic institutions" (which in 1861 implicitly meant slavery) of the states impervious to the constitutional amendment procedures enshrined within Article Five of the United States Constitution and immune to abolition or interference even by the most compelling Congressional and popular majorities.
Would empower the federal government to regulate child labor.
Would have prohibited deprivation of equality of rights (discrimination) by the federal or state governments on account of sex.
Would have granted the District of Columbia full representation in the United States Congress as if it were a state, repealed the 23rd Amendment and granted the District full representation in the Electoral College system in addition to full participation in the process by which the Constitution is amended.

Proposed amendments not approved by Congress

Approximately 11,539 measures were proposed to amend the Constitution from 1789 through January 2, 2013.[5] The following amendments were introduced by a member of Congress but never won two-thirds votes in both houses of Congress so they were never sent to the states for ratification. Most did not get out of the Congressional committees designated to consider them.

19th century

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States (1861–1865)

Over 1,300 resolutions containing over 1,800 proposals to amend the constitution had been submitted before Congress during the first century of its adoption.[6] Some prominent proposals included:

20th century

Harry Blackmun wrote the Supreme Court’s opinion in the controversial Roe v. Wade decision.

21st century

See also


  1. "Proposed Amendments - Constitution Day - College of Arts & Sciences - Clayton State University". Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  2. "C-SPAN's Capitol Questions". Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  3. "Transcript of the Constitution of the United States - Official Text". Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  4. James J. Kilpatrick, ed. (1961). The Constitution of the United States and Amendments Thereto. Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government. p. 49.
  5. "Measures Proposed to Amend the Constitution". Statistics & Lists. United States Senate.
  6. Ames, Herman Vandenburg (1897). The proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States during the first century of its history. Government Printing Office. p. 19.
  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
  11. 108th Congress, H.J.Res. 26
  12. "GovTrack: H. J. Res. 103 108th]: Text of Legislation, Introduced in House". Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  13. "Statement of Chairman Orrin G. Hatch Before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary". January 27, 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-04-23.
  14. 109th Congress, S.J.Res. 6
  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) -". Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  18. 111th Congress, S.J.Res. 6
  19. 111th Congress, S.J.Res. 11
  20. 111th Congress, S.J.Res. 21
  21. 112th Congress, H.J.Res. 88
  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. Press release (November 15, 2016). "Boxer Introduces Bill To Abolish The Electoral College". Senator Barbara Boxer.
  33. 114th Congress, S.J.Res. 41
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