The Amendment Process

Article V of the Constitution states that constitutional amendments must be proposed by either a two-thirds majority in each of the Houses of Congress, or by a special Constitutional Convention that is called by at least two-thirds of the states (this has never actually happened). A proposed amendment must then be ratified by three-quarters of states. The procedure has subsequently been rendered even more difficult by the necessity of ratifying an amendment within 7 years

Although 10,000 amendments have been suggested only 33 have ever been approved by Congress for submission to the states, and of these only 27 have been ratified. The first ten amendments are collectively known as the Bill of Rights, passed in 1791 they are commonly viewed as part of the original Constitution.

Since then, only 17 amendments have successfully passed in over 200 years — and two of those, the 18th and 21st (introducing and then abandoning prohibition), effectively cancelled each other out.

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The Equal Rights Amendment

Would have provided equality of rights by the federal or state governments on account of sex. Congress took it up again recently with a number of proposed measures that never came to congressional vote. Failed to reach required number of states in 1982

Click here for ERA Explained

The District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment

Would have given District of Columbia full representation in the United States Congress as if it were a state. DC would also be able to participate in the amendment process. Failed in 1985. Passed by House and Senate but failed to get the support of enough state legislatures.

Click here: John Oliver argues for DC to be a state

The Federal Marriage amendment

Introduced into Congress several times between 2002 and 2013. Seeks to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Failed to receive the required votes in both the House and Senate in 2006. Issue seen as central in 2004 presidential elections, with George W. Bush strongly for the amendment and John Kerry arguing that individual states should decide. Introduced in 2015, without congressional vote, by Tim Huelskamp, a social conservative in the House.

Saving American Democracy amendment

Proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders in 2011. Aimed to overturn Citizens United v FEC ruling of 2010 in which the court removed regulations on funding of elections. Aims to limit influence of corporate donors in United States elections.

he Flag Protection amendment

Would allow Congress to make it illegal to desecrate the US flag. Hotly disputed issue. Supreme Court in US v Eichman 1990 overturned the Flag Protection Act on the basis of 1st amendment freedom of expression rights. Constitutional amendment proposal was an attempt to overturn this. Successfully passed in the House six times up to 2006, but always failed to be voted on or gain enough votes to pass the Senate.

Right to vote amendment

Introduced to prevent restrictions on voting. Would end felony voting restrictions and help protect voting rights after Shelby County v Holder Supreme Court ruling in 2013 overturned sections of the Voting Rights Act 1965. Representatives Mark Pocan and Keith Ellison reintroduced it in 2013.