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What the Constitution Could Look Like: Amendments That Were Never Ratified

It’s Constitution Week! This week we are celebrating the signing of the U.S. Constitution, our nation’s governing document. Each day, you will find a blog about constitutions in America. These blogs serve to educate on the thing that has historically defined government in the United States – the rule of law.

 

The United States Constitution consists of one preamble, seven articles, and 27 amendments. Among those amendments are the Bill of Rights, the abolition of slavery, prohibition, and the end of prohibition. These amendments help define the Constitution and make the country what it is; however, amendments require a two-thirds majority vote in Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states. Some amendments never made the cut.

In this blog, we are going to talk about the six proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution that passed through Congress but were never ratified by the states. (And, since we are a North Carolinian organization, we’ll let you know which ones North Carolina ratified, and which ones it did not.)

Number One: Congressional Apportionment Amendment

The Congressional Apportionment Amendment was the first amendment ever proposed to the constitution – even before the bill of rights! According to the Library of Congress:

In 1789, at the time of the submission of the Bill of Rights, twelve proposed amendments were submitted to the States. Of these, Articles III–XII were ratified and became the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Proposed Articles I and II were not ratified with these ten, but, in 1992, Article II was proclaimed as ratified, 203 years later.

The Congressional Apportionment Amendment is the only one of the original 12 proposed amendments that was never ratified. It reads:

After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

If we estimate California’s population at 40 million, under this amendment, California could have 800 U.S. representatives (1 representative for every 50 thousand persons = 800 representatives for 40 million people).

Ratified by North Carolina

Number Two: Titles of Nobility Amendment

The Titles of Nobility Amendment was intended to remove U.S. citizenship from Americans who accepted titles of nobility from foreign governments. The Amendment reads:

If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.

If this amendment were passed, American-born actress and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle would likely be stateless – as she would cease to be a U.S. citizen and has not lived in the U.K. long enough to apply for citizenship.

Ratified by North Carolina

Number Three: Corwin Amendment

The Corwin Amendment – named after its sponsor in the House, Thomas Corwin – was an attempt to avoid Southern secession and intended to shield the institution of slavery from Congress. The amendment reads:

No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

Under this amendment, the United States would likely not have been able to pass the 13th amendment abolishing slavery.

X Not ratified by North Carolina

Number Four: Child Labor Amendment

In the late 1910s, Congress passed federal child labor laws. These laws were subsequently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The Child Labor Amendment was proposed during the 1920s in an attempt to authorize Congress to pass these labor laws. Section one of the amendment reads:

The Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under 18 years of age.

X Not ratified by North Carolina

Number Five: Equal Rights Amendment

The Equal Rights Amendment was originally introduced in Congress in the 1920s but was not approved by Congress until 1972. Section one of the amendment reads:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

The amendment included a seven-year deadline for ratification; however, Nevada and Illinois voted to ratify the amendment after the deadline in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

X Not ratified by North Carolina

Number Six: D.C. Voting Rights Amendment

The D.C. Voting Rights Amendment was designed to give the District of Columbia full representation in Congress and the Electoral College, as well as full representation in the constitutional amendment process. This amendment would repeal the 23rd amendment granting D.C. only as many Electoral College votes as the least populous U.S. state. Section one of the amendment reads:

For purposes of representation in the Congress, election of the President and Vice President, and article V of this Constitution, the District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall be treated as though it were a State.

X Not ratified by North Carolina

Test your knowledge of your federal and state constitutions by taking our Constitution Week Quiz HERE!

Brenee Goforth / Marketing and Communications Associate

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