Amending America

Amending America LogoOur Rights

More than anything else, the history of constitutional amendments is a history of expanding rights and democracy. Seventeen of the 27 ratified amendments secure or expand individual rights. Some proposed amendments would limit or remove individual rights, but none of these have ultimately been successful.

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Refining Powers

The Constitution authorizes many powers for the Federal Government, but Americans have continued to try to add to or subtract from that list. Frequently, the powers in proposed amendments to the Constitution are responses to specific events at certain points in time. They fail because they don’t achieve a sustained consensus over time.

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The Shape of Our Government

The Founders who wrote the Constitution were uncertain it would work. They were constructing new ways to run a government that had never been tried before. It’s not surprising, then, that time would reveal some flaws or inefficiencies. Many proposed amendments would alter how the Federal Government is structured, who participates in government, and how candidates are elected.

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How We Amend

It is very easy to propose constitutional amendments. Members of Congress have done it over 11,000 times. But ratifying amendments is very hard—so difficult that it has happened only 27 times.

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