U.S. Constitution Online
Quick Links: FAQ  Topics  Forums  Documents  Timeline  Kids  Vermont Constitution  Map  Citation   USConstitution.net

The Failed Amendments

Advertisement

Throughout the history of the Constitution, 27 changes have been made through the Amendment process. Amendments are not easy to pass, and several amendments have been proposed over time, but which failed to pass the second hurdle - acceptance by the states. This page lists the amendments to the Constitution which have not yet passed. Some, because of the language of the bill that passed the Congress, have no expiration date and are still pending ratification. Others have built-in expiration dates. The text details which of the amendments are expired.

The following pages may also be of interest: The Amendment Process, Proposed Amendments. Emory University Law School has a similar page.


The Failed Amendments

See also: Emory University's Page.

Article 1 of the original Bill of Rights
This amendment, proposed in 1789, dealt with the number of persons represented by each member of the House, and the number of members of the House. It essentially said that once the House hit 100 members, it should not go below 100, and once it reached 200, it should not go below 200. Since there are over 400 members today, this amendment would be de facto moot today. It is, however, still outstanding. Congressional research shows that the amendment was ratified by ten states, the last being in 1791.

The text:

After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

The Anti-Title Amendment
This amendment, submitted to the States in the 11th Congress (in 1810), said that any citizen who accepted or received any title of nobility from a foreign power, or who accepted without the consent of Congress any gift from a foreign power, by would no longer be a citizen There is some debate about whether this amendment was actually ratified or not, mostly by those who put forth the fanciful notion that if it had been, most (if not all) legislators who are lawyers, and who use the title "Esquire" would no longer be citizens, and hence, no longer be able to serve in Congress. This amendment is still outstanding. (Information refuting claims of ratification can be found here. A refutation of this refutation can be found here.) Congressional research shows that the amendment was ratified by twelve states, the last being in 1812.

The text:

If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.

The Slavery Amendment
In 1861, an amendment prohibiting the Congress from making any law interfering with the domestic institutions of any State (slavery being specifically mentioned) was proposed and sent to the states. This amendment is still outstanding. Congressional research shows that the amendment was ratified by two states, the last being in 1862. This amendment is also known as the Corwin Amendment, as it was proposed by Ohio Representative Thomas Corwin.

The text:

No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

The Child Labor Amendment
In 1926, an amendment was proposed which granted Congress the power to regulate the labor of children under the age of 18. This amendment is still outstanding, having been ratified by 28 states. Ratification by 38 states is required to add an amendment. Congressional research shows that the amendment was ratified by 28 states, the last being in 1937.

The text:

Section 1. The Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age.

Section 2. The power of the several States is unimpaired by this article except that the operation of State laws shall be suspended to the extent necessary to give effect to legislation enacted by the Congress.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
The ERA's first section states "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." It was intended to place into law the equality of men and women. It was sent to the states in March, 1972. The original seven year deadline was extended to ten years. It expired unratified in 1982.

The text:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

The Washington DC Voting Rights Amendment
Granted the citizens of Washington DC the same full representation in Congress as any state, and repealed the 23rd Amendment granting the District votes in the Electoral College (since it would have been moot). Proposed in 1978, it expired unratified in 1985.

The text:

Section 1. For purposes of representation in the Congress, election of the President and Vice President, and article V of this Constitution, the District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall be treated as though it were a State.

Section 2. The exercise of the rights and powers conferred under this article shall be by the people of the District constituting the seat of government, and as shall be provided by the Congress.

Section 3. The twenty-third article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 4. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.



URL: http://www.usconstitution.net/constamfail.html