Constitutional Amendments List and Process Explained
The constitutional amendments list is a list of both ratified and unratified constitutional amendments United States Congress has approved. The ten first amendments, introduced by James Madison in 1789, are known as the Bill of Rights. There has been a further 17 amendments since the Bill of Rights. All 27 include freedom of religion, speech and press, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to a fair trial, the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, among others. At least one amendment was done to repeal an earlier one, the 21st repeals the 18th, which established the prohibition of alcohol. But, what is the constitutional amendments process?
First we need to know what the Constitution is. A Constitution is a key document to all democratic political systems, as it is the maximum law of a country. It determines the organization of a government, dividing it in different branches and assigning each branch distinct powers and duties, while also setting up limits for this powers, effectively guaranteeing rights to the people. What the Tablets of the Law were to the Children of Israel, the Constitution is to modern society, with the notable difference that the Constitution is neither literally nor figuratively written in stone. For instance, the original text of the Constitution of the United States, which the oldest written such document still in use, featured in its article V the process through which it could be modified. In order to do so, two thirds of the the two houses of the Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) must deemed necessary to propose an amendment. That means two thirds of the present members, provided there is quorum, and two thirds of all official and elected members.
After is has been proposed, there has to be a ratification of constitutional amendments. A ratification of constitutional amendments means that an amendment must be ratified by the legislatures of at least three fourths of the states. The is also the possibility of ratifying by convention. A state ratifying convention resembles a referendum, in which registered voters may have a say on hot-button issues. So far, however, only one amendment has been ratified through this means, specifically the previously mentioned 21st amendment in 1933. This whole process is common top democratic political systems.
The importance of constitutional amendments lies in the fact that they are a reflection of democracy, an imperfect type of government, yet considered to be one of the best political systems, warts and all. That is the reason why starts with the phrase “We the people…”. Although it was penned by politicians and is still amended by politicians, those politicians hold positions for which they were elected by the people, and the changes made to the Constitutions are proposed in order to fill popular needs and overall increase the quality of life of the whole country.
The last recorded amendment was proposed and ratified in 1992, but in the US, the Constitutional Amendments list still has a few items pending, such as the Congressional Apportionment Amendment and the Child Labor Amendment, so modifications can still be made to that, as well as other political systems.