The following is a list of the 27 Constitutional Amendments. 25 of these constitutional amendments are currently active. The two amendments of the constitution that are inactive are the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) and the 21st Amendment (Repeal of Prohibition).
The First 10 Amendments to the Constitution
The first 10 of these amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. These were added in 1791 and are about personal rights.
There have been proposed over 11,000 additional constitutional amendments, with approximately 200 proposed for the amendment process a year. For a proposed constitutional amendment to be passed is a very complicated process.
The 27 Amendments:
The 1st amendment:
The 1st amendment is about Freedom of speech. The notion that the government will not interfere with the ability of the people, the press, or religious groups to express their views or to protest in favor of them.
The 2nd amendment:
The 2nd amendment is about the right to bear arms. In the modern world, the continued right to own firearms and protect property according to the law.
The 3rd amendment:
The 3rd amendment is a law stating that citizens do not have to house soldiers, whether in wartime or peacetime if they do not consent to do so.
The 4th amendment:
The 4th amendment is about the right of the people of the United States to feel secure in their homes, and of possessions, without fear of “unreasonable searches and seizures”. This continues to relate to modern law in the need for a warrant to search property.
The 5th amendment:
The 5th amendment is commonly known as the double jeopardy law. Those tried and acquitted for a crime cannot be tried again for that same crime. Also, the accused cannot be asked to be a witness against themselves.
The 6th amendment:
The 6th amendment is about the right of all citizens of the United States to a speed and fair public trial. This also means a neutral jury and the right to a defense counsel and witnesses in their favor.
The 7th amendment:
The 7th amendment gives the right for any claimant to take a matter to court and trial by jury when the value in question exceeds $20.
The 8th amendment:
The 8th amendment is a ban on extreme punishments for crimes, with a focus on those “cruel and unusual” and on excessive fines or bail.
The 9th amendment:
The 9th amendment gives the clarification that US citizens have far more rights than those currently listed and that their absence doesn’t diminish their importance.
The 10th amendment:
The 10th amendment is an attempt to separate Federal and State law, where the Federal government only has the powers assigned to it via the United States Constitution. The states have power over everything else.
The 11th amendment:
The 11th amendment is the notion that the right for citizens to sue a State only applies to those that are resident in that state. In other words, Texans can’t sue the State of New Mexico.
The 12th amendment:
The 12th amendment is a complex amendment that lays out all the laws for how Presidents and Vice Presidents progressed through the nomination and election process. It goes into who is allowed to vote and qualified electors and delegates. Also the requirements for becoming president.
The 13th amendment:
The 13th amendment is about the abolition of slavery. The promise that slavery, or “involuntary servitude”, would exist no longer within the United States. The exception here being on the conviction of a crime.
The 14th amendment:
The 14th amendment is the assertion that all those born or naturalized within the United States are citizens of the United States. Furthermore, the promise that no State will enforce any law that will damage these privileges in any way. This is also known as the Equal Protection Clause.
The 15th amendment:
The 15th amendment is the notion that any citizen of the United States has the right to vote, regardless of their race and color of their skin. This constitutional amendment also mentions those with a “previous condition of servitude”, which therefore gives the right to former slaves.
The 16th amendment:
The 16th amendment is a law that allowed Congress to start collecting income tax, with the promise that this would not be based on the state’s population.
The 17th amendment:
The 17th amendment lays out the terms for electing Senators. This gave power to the people of the US to choose their representatives and laid out the terms of office.
The 18th amendment:
The 18th amendment is also known as the Prohibition law. This prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of “intoxicating liquors”. This essentially meant a ban on alcohol and led to the Prohibition Era of bootleg alcohol sales and consumption.
The 19th amendment:
The 19th amendment is about the right for any citizen of the United States to vote, regardless of their biological sex. Essentially, this was the moment women joined male citizens and were given the right to vote in the United States.
The 20th amendment:
The 20th amendment is the decision that all Presidential terms, and those of Vice Presidents, will end at noon (12:00) on the twentieth of January. In addition to this, it was decided that the date of the start of a term in the Senate would move to January 3rd.
The 21st amendment:
The 21st amendment is the motion to repeal the 18th amendment, the Prohibition Law, and allow for the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol. Ratified in 1933 due to the inability to enforce the law. Instead, individual states gained the right to police alcohol-related laws themselves.
The 22nd amendment:
The 22nd amendment is the notion that no President should be eligible for election into the office for more than two terms. Furthermore, anyone that is promoted to President for two years or more of a term cannot be elected for more than one additional term. The amendment was proposed in 1947, following FDR’s term from 1933 to 1945.
The 23rd amendment:
The 23rd amendment ensures that Washington, D.C. had electors in the Electoral College, but only as many as the state with the lowest number. This would ensure that voters there had better representation in future elections.
The 24th amendment:
The 24th amendment is about the right of any citizen of the United States to vote for candidates in any election for Presidential, Senate, or Congress representatives even if they have missed a tax payment. This could mean a poll tax payment or any other tax.
The 25th amendment:
The 25th amendment says that the Vice President will take the office and take over the role of President if the President is removed from office, resigns, or dies. This was proposed in 1965 after Lyndon Johnson took over the Presidency following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
The 26th amendment:
The 26th amendment is about the right of all American citizens over the age of 18 to be able to vote. Before this, the voting age had been 20. There is also mention of being able to do so without fear of having their vote denied because of their age.
The 27th amendment:
The 27th amendment is the proposal that any changes to the salary of those in Congress should not take effect until the next election of representatives. Unsurprisingly, given the nature of this bill, this took a long time to reach ratification. It was proposed in 1789 and ratified in 1992.