No, I didn’t know there were 27 amendments. Yes, I am that stupid.
Yesterday, I went through the first 10 in the Bill of Rights. Today I went through the rest. Below is what I learned – or rather, think I learned. If I am misinterpreting any of these, feel free to correct me.
11th – Establishes the concept of “sovereign immunity,” which means that a state can’t be sued by someone who doesn’t live in that state.
12th – Before this was passed in 1804, the each member of the Electoral College cast 2 votes and whoever got the highest number of votes was President and whoever got the second highest was Vice President. This amendment changed it so that the one vote was cast for President and another separate vote was cast for Vice President.
13th – Abolished slavery.
14th – This one has caused a lot of drama over the years. Established after the Civil War, it does a bunch of things including saying that anyone born here is a citizen and protected under the constitution and guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, due process, and equal protection; set about the apportionment concept for how many US Congress members each state gets; says that anyone who pledged any kind of allegiance to an “enemy” can’t hold public office; and says that the US owes what it owes in terms of debt except for debt incurred because of insurrection or rebellion. This amendment is the foundation for both Roe v. Wade and Bush v. Gore.
15th – Establishes the right to vote for all races.
16th – Allows the government to collect income tax.
17th – Sets the procedure by which US Senators are elected by popular vote. Before this, Senators were elected by the state legislators in each state. There is a movement afoot today to go back to the old way of doing things.
18th – Prohibition. Booooo.
19th – Grants women the right to vote.
20th – It moved the dates by which the congress and the President’s terms began. Before this it was in March and this moved both to January.
21st – Repeals prohibition. Yay!!
22nd – Term limits on the presidency – only twice.
23rd – Gave the District of Columbia electors in the Electoral College.
24th – Bans the concept of a poll tax, which southern states tried to enact to keep African-Americans from voting.
25th – I knew this one because of the episode of The West Wing when Zoey was kidnapped and President Bartlet stepped aside and let John Goodman take over. It provides for orderly transitions of power from presidents and how to appoint VPs if there is ever a vacancy or a disability.
26th – Establishes 18 years old as the age at which people can vote. Apparently some states were pissed off during the Vietnam era at the young protesters and wanted to raise their voting age.
27th – This basically says that Congress can’t vote itself a pay raise. They can do it, but it won’t take effect until after the next election, so the people who voted for it might not actually be there to profit from it. Interestingly this was first sent to the states for ratification in 1789 but didn’t become a passed amendment until 1992.