List of Constitutional Amendments to the United States Constitution

List of Constitutional Amendments
List of Constitutional Amendments

This article provides an overview of amendments and a list of constitutional amendments. First, we’ll define amendments and then provide the complete list. If you have any questions, please post a comment below.

What is a Constitutional Amendment?

An amendment is an alteration of or addition to a motion, bill, constitution, etc. The United States Congress has ratified a total of twenty-seven amendments since the United States Constitution was initially signed.

The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. The procedure for amending the United States Constitution is governed by Article V of the original text.

List of Constitutional Amendments

Following is a list of the amendments to the U.S. Constitution that received the approval of the United States Congress. The list includes the name, a brief description, and the date it was enacted.

1st Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified on December 15, 1791, is a cornerstone of the Bill of Rights and guarantees fundamental freedoms to American citizens. It begins with the words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Essentially, the First Amendment protects the rights of individuals to practice their religion, express themselves freely, assemble peacefully, and petition the government, forming a critical foundation for the principles of free speech and the open exchange of ideas in the United States.

2nd Amendment

The Second Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights adopted on December 15, 1791, asserts the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment has been the subject of extensive legal and societal debates, with interpretations varying on the balance between the collective right of a militia and the individual right to own firearms. Advocates argue that it safeguards personal and collective defense, while critics emphasize the need for reasonable regulations to address public safety concerns. The Second Amendment remains a focal point in discussions about gun rights and gun control in the United States.

3rd Amendment

The Third Amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights ratified on December 15, 1791. It safeguards the privacy and security of individuals by prohibiting the quartering of soldiers in private homes without the owner’s consent, except during times of war as prescribed by law. Stemming from colonial grievances where British soldiers were forcibly housed in private residences, it underscores the principle that individuals have a right to be free from the involuntary quartering of military personnel in their homes during peacetime. While it is one of the less litigated amendments, it protects the sanctity of private property and the individual’s right to be free from unwarranted government intrusion into their homes.

4th Amendment

Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets out requirements for search warrants based on probable cause.
Enacted on December 15, 1791

5th Amendment

Sets out rules for indictment by a grand jury and eminent domain. In addition, it protects the right to due process and prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy.
Enacted on 12/15/1791

6th Amendment

Protects the right to a fair and speedy public trial by jury, including the right to be notified of the accusations, to confront the accuser, to obtain witnesses, and to retain counsel.
Enacted on December 15, 1791

7th Amendment

The Seventh Amendment provides for the right to a trial by jury in certain civil cases, according to common law. It was enacted on December 15, 1791.

8th Amendment

Prohibits excessive fines, bail, and cruel and unusual punishment.
Enacted on December 15, 1791

9th Amendment

Asserts the existence of unremunerated rights retained by the people.
Enacted on 12/15/1791

10th Amendment

Limits the federal government’s powers to those delegated by the Constitution. It was enacted on December 15, 1791.

11th Amendment

Provides immunity to states from suits from out-of-state citizens and foreigners not living within the state borders. In addition, it lays the foundation for sovereign immunity. Enacted on February 7, 1795.

12th Amendment

This one revises presidential election procedures.
Enacted on June 15, 1804

13th Amendment

Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime. It was enacted on December 6, 1865

14th Amendment

Defines citizenship and deals with post–Civil War issues. It was enacted on July 9, 1868.

15th Amendment

Prohibits the denial of suffrage based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It was enacted on February 3, 1870

16th Amendment

It allows the federal government to collect income tax.
Enacted on February 3, 1913

17th Amendment

It requires United States senators to be directly elected.
Enacted on April 8, 1913

18th Amendment

Establishes the Prohibition of alcohol (eventually repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment – see below).
Enacted on January 16, 1919

19th Amendment

Establishes women’s suffrage.
Enacted on August 18, 1920

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20th Amendment

Fixes the dates of term commencements for Congress (January 3) and the President (January 20), known as the “lame duck amendment.”
Enacted on January 23, 1933

21st Amendment

This one repeals the Eighteenth Amendment, which established the prohibition of alcohol.
Enacted on December 5, 1933

22nd Amendment

Limits the United States President to two terms of service, or a maximum of 10 years. Two terms are usually eight years. However, if a Vice President serves not more than one-half of a President’s term, he/she can be elected to a further two terms.
Enacted on February 27, 1951

23rd Amendment

This one provides for the representation of Washington, D.C., in the Electoral College.
Enacted on March 29, 1961

24th Amendment

The 24th prohibits the revocation of voting rights due to the non-payment of poll taxes. Enacted on January 23, 1964

25th Amendment

The 25th defines the process of presidential succession. It allows the Vice President to become the President if the President dies. In addition, the VP becomes President if the President resigns, is removed from office, or is impaired and unable to perform the duties of the President. It was enacted on February 10, 1967.

26th Amendment

This amendment established 18 as the national voting age. Congress enacted it on July 1, 1971.

27th Amendment

Finally, the 27th prevents laws affecting Congressional salary from taking effect until the beginning of the next session of Congress. Enacted on May 7, 1992.

Proposed Changes

Congress introduced many other proposals for amendments to the United States Constitution, but only those listed above became law.

More Information

For more detailed information, please visit Wikipedia.

If you have any questions about the list of constitutional amendments, please post a comment below. Also, view other Lists of Lists.


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