List of proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States

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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, 2019, approximately 11,770 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. Only a fraction of those actually receive enough support to win Congressional approval to 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[edit]

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:

  • A national convention, called by Congress for this purpose, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds (presently 34) of the states.[3][4]

The latter procedure has never been used. To become part of the Constitution, an adopted amendment must be ratified by either:

  • The legislatures of three-fourths (presently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period, if any;
  • State ratifying conventions in three-fourths (presently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period, if any.[4]

The decision of which ratification method will be used for any given amendment is Congress' alone to make, as is the decision to set a ratification deadline.[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[edit]

Constitutional amendment proposals considered in but not approved by Congress during the 19th century included:

  • The Dueling Ban Amendment, proposed in 1838 after Representative William Graves killed another Representative, Jonathan Cilley, in a duel, would have prohibited any person involved in a duel from holding federal office.[5]
  • Shortly before his death during the congressional debates leading to the Compromise of 1850, John C. Calhoun proposed constitutional amendments requiring an equal number of slave states and free states and creating two co-Presidents from the North and the South which would have to concur on all legislation.[6] A similar amendment to eliminate the presidency so as to have two elected officials in its place, was proposed by Virginia Representative Albert Jenkins in 1860 shortly before sectional tensions escalated into the American Civil War. Jenkins saw the amendment as a way for both the Northern and the Southern states to be represented equally in the government at a given time.[7]
  • The Christian Amendment, first proposed in February 1863, would have added acknowledgment of the Christian God in the Preamble to the Constitution.[8] Similar amendments were proposed in 1874, 1896, and 1910 with none passing. The last attempt in 1954 did not come to a vote.
  • The 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.[9] Though it failed to pass, many states adopted such provisions.[10]
  • An amendment allowing property-owning unmarried women to vote was proposed by Representative William Mason. The underlying logic behind this amendment was that these single women did not have husbands to represent their interests via the vote. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a suffragist at the time, stated in her testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage: "Though my coadjutors all believe in universal suffrage, yet I think we should be willing to let you start with spinsters and widows who are householder. Having homes of their own it is fair to suppose that they are industrious, common-sense women, ... women who love their country (having no husbands to love) better than themselves."[7][11] The Nineteenth Amendment would later establish women's suffrage irrespective of marital status or property in 1920.
  • Representative Lucas M. Miller proposed renaming the United States of America to the United States of the Earth in 1893, as well as abolishing the Army and Navy.[12]

20th century[edit]

Constitutional amendment proposals considered in but not approved by Congress during the 20th century included the following:

21st century[edit]

Constitutional amendment proposals considered in but not approved by Congress thus far in the 21st century have included:

See also[edit]


  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 May 29, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Constitution Day: Proposed Amendments". Morrow, Georgia: Clayton State University. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "Constitutional Amendment Process". Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. August 15, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  5. ^ Blackerby, Christine (Winter 2015). "Amending America: Exhibit Shows How Changes in the Constitution Affect the Way Our Democracy Works" (PDF). Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration. 47 (4): 10.
  6. ^ Cohen, Jared (2019). Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America (1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.). New York. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-1-5011-0982-9. OCLC 1039375326.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ a b c d "10 Weirdest Failed Constitutional Amendments". HowStuffWorks. August 26, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  8. ^ Goldstein, Jared (February 26, 2017). "How the Constitution Became Christian". Hastings Law Journal. 68 (259): 270. SSRN 2739069.
  9. ^ Lash, Kurt T. (April 7, 2014). The Fourteenth Amendment and the Privileges and Immunities of American Citizenship. Cambridge University Press. p. 269. ISBN 9781107023260.
  10. ^ Kleber, John, ed. (1992). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 241. ISBN 9780813128832.
  11. ^ "Statement before the U.S. Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage – April 2, 1888". Archives of Women's Political Communication. Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  12. ^ Novak, Matt (July 22, 2014). "Congress once considered renaming the US 'The United States of Earth'". Gizmodo. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  13. ^ "U.S. Senate: House Member Introduces Resolution to Abolish the Senate". Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  14. ^ Schaffner, Joan (2005). "The Federal Marriage Amendment: To Protect the Sanctity of Marriage or Destroy Constitutional Democracy". GW Law Faculty Publications. 54 (1487): 10.
  15. ^ Wallenstein, Peter (March 24, 2015). Tell the Court I Love My Wife: Race, Marriage, and Law – An American History. St. Martin's Press. pp. 133–135.
  16. ^ Iversen, Joan (1997). The Antipolygamy Controversy in U.S. Women's Movements: 1880–1925: A Debate on the American Home. New York: Routledge. pp. 243–44. ISBN 9780815320791.
  17. ^ Ole R., Holsti (2004). Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy. University of Michigan. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-472-03011-8.
  18. ^ Robert C., Cottrell. Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union. p. 236.
  19. ^ Chatfield, Charles (May 1969). "Pacifists and Their Publics: The Politics of a Peace Movement". Midwest Journal of Political Science. 13 (2): 298–312. doi:10.2307/2110180. JSTOR 2110180.
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  24. ^ Lemelin, Bernard Lemelin (Winter 1999). "Opposition to the 22nd Amendment: The National Committee Against Limiting the Presidency and its Activities, 1949–1951". Canadian Review of American Studies. 29 (3). University of Toronto Press on behalf of the Canadian Association for American Studies with the support of Carleton University: 133–148. doi:10.3138/CRAS-029-03-06. S2CID 159908265.
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  30. ^ "Sen. Byrd introduces amendment allowing school prayer". Associated Press. April 30, 2006. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
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  34. ^ Pieper, Troy (June 1996). "Playing With Fire: The Proposed Flag Burning Amendment and the Perennial Attack on Freedom of Speech". Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development. 11 (3). 25.
  35. ^ Staff Writer (June 28, 2006). "Senate Rejects Flag Desecration Amendment". The Washington Post.
  36. ^ For a more detailed account of this proposal, see Lawrence D. Longley and Alan G. Braun (1972), The Politics of Electoral College Reform.
  37. ^ "House Unit Votes To Drop Electors". The New York Times. April 30, 1969. p. 1.
  38. ^ "House Approves Direct Election of The President". The New York Times. September 19, 1969. p. 1.
  39. ^ "Senate Debating Direct Election". The New York Times. September 9, 1970. p. 10.
  40. ^ a b Weaver, Warren (September 18, 1970). "Senate Refuses To Halt Debate On Direct Voting". The New York Times. p. 1.
  41. ^ "Abortion Amendment Voted by Senate Panel". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 26, 1983.
  42. ^ Roberts, Steven (April 4, 1983). "Full Senate Gets Abortion Measure". The New York Times.
  43. ^ Granberg, Donald (June 1985). "The United States Senate Votes to Uphold Roe versus Wade". Population Research and Policy Review. 4 (2). Springer: 115–131. doi:10.1007/BF00127547. JSTOR 40229744. S2CID 144062929.
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ a b c Istook, Ernest (July 14, 2011). "Considering a Balanced Budget Amendment: Lessons from History". Heritage Foundation.
  46. ^ B. S., Texas A&M University; Facebook, Facebook. "Why Members of the US Congress Do Not Face Term Limits". ThoughtCo. Retrieved April 9, 2020. {{cite web}}: |last2= has generic name (help)
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  52. ^ "H.J.Res.54 - 118th Congress: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights protected and extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only. | | Library of Congress".
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External links[edit]