Informal poll: Raise your hand if you know anything about amendments 11-27. Right. Not many, not many. I teach this material, and I still have to review it each time I present it! These days, it pays to know our rights and the changes made to our original Constitution.
Let’s break it down:
The Eleventh Amendment concerns lawsuits against states. Initially, you could sue a state in federal court. Now, if you live in one state or are a subject of a foreign jurisdiction, you can sue another state, but the lawsuit must occur in the state court, not federal court.
The Twelfth Amendment changes Article II, Section 1. Electors in the Electoral College must vote separately for President and Vice-President. Originally, the first-place winner became President, and whoever was the runner-up became the Vice-President. Think that over for a minute. How would that have worked in 1960? 2016? 2022? (!) Now, votes are cast separately for President and Vice-President.
Amendments Thirteen through Fifteen are called the post- Civil War Amendments.
Amendment Thirteen officially abolished slavery.
Amendment Fourteen outlines who is considered a citizen of the United States. It also says that states may not deprive anyone of their God-given rights to life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Amendment Fifteen says that U.S. citizens may not be deprived of the right to vote because of race, color, or previous servitude (slavery).
Amendment Sixteen allows Congress to tax your income, and so they do every April 15. Keep in mind that Congress tried to pass an income tax amendment in 1893, but the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 9 did not allow direct taxation on your income. The Sixteenth Amendment changed that provision.
Amendment Seventeen changed the Constitution to provide for the popular election of Senators. Initially, state legislators chose the senators who could best represent their state’s interests. It also gave state legislatures more power over Congress. If they didn’t like what was going on, they had power and influence. Now, this important check on federal power is gone.
There’s a misconception that all Amendments made the original Constitution “better.” In reality, after the Bill of Rights, more and more amendments were passed (by 2/3 of both Houses, 3/4 of all states). The federal government gained more power, and the citizens now have less power. Not exactly the vision of our Founders.
What new insights have you gained from reading about Amendments Eleven through Seventeen?
Let’s continue our study with Amendments Eighteen through Twenty-Seven in my next article.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸