Editor's Note: Congress has sent 33 amendments changing the United States Constitution to the states for approval, since March 4, 1789. Twenty-seven of these have been passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and approved by three-fourths of the states. They are now part of the Constitution. The first ten amendments were approved between November 1789, and December 1791, and are known as the Bill of Rights. Below are Amendments 11-27. Six amendments have not yet been approved by enough states. Once an amendment is voted for by the states, Congress can pass laws making states follow the amendment.
AMENDMENT XI (Set limits on whether a state could be sued)
Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Approved February 7, 1795.
Note: Article III, section 2, of the Constitution seemed to say a person could sue a state, but this was modified by Amendment 11.
Courts in the United States shall not allow a person in the United States or a person from a foreign country to sue one of the states in the U.S.
AMENDMENT XII (Changed the presidential election process)
Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Approved June 15, 1804.
Note: A portion of Article II, section 1, of the Constitution stated many men could run for President, and Electors would choose two. The one with the most votes would be President and the one with the next highest number would be Vice President. This was changed by the 12th Amendment.
The Electors shall meet in their own states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, who cannot be living the same state. The Electors shall name the person voted for as President, and the person voted for as Vice-President. Electors must list all persons voted for as President, and all persons voted for as Vice-President, along with the number of votes for each. The Electors shall sign and send sealed results to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in front of the Senate and House of Representatives, open the sealed results and count the votes.
The person having a majority of votes for President shall be the President, and the person having a majority of votes as Vice-President shall be the Vice-President.
If no person has such a majority for President, then the House of Representatives shall choose the President from the top three. Each state will have one vote and a majority of two-thirds of the states must vote to choose the President.
If no person has a majority for Vice President, then the Senate shall choose the Vice-President from the two highest numbers on the list. A majority of at least two-thirds of the Senators shall choose the Vice President.
If the House of Representatives shall not choose a President before the next fourth day of March, the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of death or if the President is too sick to serve. [This was changed by the 20th Amendment in 1933.]
To be the Vice-President, the person must be at least 35 years of age, born in the United States and living here for the last 14 years.
AMENDMENT XIII (Abolished slavery)
Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Approved December 6, 1865.
Note: A part of Article IV of the Constitution, which ordered the return of slaves that escape to another state, was ended by the 13th Amendment.
Section 1. Slavery shall not exist within the United States, or any place ruled by the United States, but being a servant as punishment for crime is still allowed.
AMENDMENT XIV (Defined what it means to be a citizen)
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Approved July 9, 1868.
Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was changed, omitting the "three-fifths clause" for counting slaves.
Section 1. Persons born in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the State in which they live, and naturalized persons who are born in other countries can follow rules to become citizens of the United States and of the State in which they live. No State shall make any law that limits the rights of citizens of the United States, and no State can take a person's life, liberty, or property without a trial or due process of law. Every citizen shall have equal protection under the laws.
Section 2. The number of Representatives in a state shall be based on counting the number of persons in each State. Indians, that are not taxed, will not be counted. But when a state does not allow males 21 years or older the right to vote because of being part of a rebellion, or other crime, the number of representatives shall be lowered as the total population of voters is lowered. [The voting age of 21 was changed to 18 years of age in 1971.]
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, who has been part of a rebellion against the Constitution of the United States of America, or helped the enemy. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, allow this person to once again serve this country.
Section 4. The United States does not have to pay the debts of people who fought against this country. The United States or any State does not have to pay owners of the slaves who were freed by order of the United States of America.
AMENDMENT XV (All men have the right to vote)
Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Approved February 3, 1870.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or changed by the United States or by any State because of race, color or having been a slave.
AMENDMENT XVI (Federal government can collect taxes from people)
Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Approved February 3, 1913.
Note: Article I, section 9, clause 4, of the Constitution allowed taxation based on the population of a state, but was changed by Amendment 16.
The Congress shall have power to set and collect taxes on incomes of Americans. The population of the state does not change the amount of tax the American must pay.
AMENDMENT XVII (Senators are now chosen by the people)
Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Approved April 8, 1913.
Note: Senators in Congress were chosen by state legislatures in Article I, section 3, but this was changed by the 17th Amendment.
The Senate of the United States shall have two Senators from each State, elected by the people for six years, with each Senator having one vote. The voters who can vote for people in the State legislatures can vote for Senators.
When the Senator cannot serve, the governor of the State can choose someone to serve as Senator, if the legislature of the State gave this power to the governor. Eventually the people will elect a new senator.
AMENDMENT XVIII (Made alcohol against the law)
Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Approved January 16, 1919. Repealed and ended by Amendment 21 in 1933.
Section 1. After one year from approving this amendment, the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors into and out of the United States and all territory controlled by the United States is prohibited.
AMENDMENT XIX (Gave women the right to vote)
Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Approved August 18, 1920.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or changed by the United States or by any State because of the sex of the voter.
AMENDMENT XX (Set new rules for Congress and the President)
Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Approved January 23, 1933.
Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution about Congress meeting, and a portion of the 12th Amendment about the death of a President, were changed by this amendment.
Section 1. The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January. The terms of Senators and Representatives will end at noon on the 3d day of January. This begins in the years after this amendment is approved.
Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year. Each meeting shall begin at noon on the 3rd day of January, unless they shall by law choose a different day.
Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If the President elect shall be unable to work, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President is able to work. The Congress may by law come up with a plan when neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect are able to work. Congress may choose a person who shall act as President or Vice President until the President or Vice President can work.
Section 4. The Congress may by law act after the death of the President or Vice President, where the House of Representatives may choose a President and the Senate may choose a Vice President.
AMENDMENT XXI (Made alcohol legal again)
Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Approved December 5, 1933.
Section 1. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is now repealed and ended.
Section 2. Transporting intoxicating liquors into any State, Territory or possession of the United States, in violation of the laws of a state, can still be prohibited.
AMENDMENT XXII (Presidents can only serve two terms)
Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Approved February 27, 1951.
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice. No person who has held the office of President, or acted as President for more than two years of a term of another President, shall be elected President more than once.
AMENDMENT XXIII (D.C. gets three electors in presidential elections)
Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Approved March 29, 1961.
Section 1. The District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.), being the seat of Government of the United States, will vote for President and Vice President. There will be no more than three electors, which is the number of electors in the state with the fewest number of people. The Electors shall meet in the District of Columbia.
AMENDMENT XXIV (People don't have to pay a poll tax to vote)
Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Approved January 23, 1964.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or changed because a poll tax or other tax has not been paid.
AMENDMENT XXV (Decides what happens if a president can't work)
Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Approved February 10, 1967.
Note: Article II, section 1, of the Constitution about replacing the President was changed by the 25th Amendment.
Section 1. If the President must leave the office, resigns or dies, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2. Whenever there is no Vice President, the President shall offer the name of a Vice President who shall take office upon approval by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3. Whenever the President sends to the President pro tempore of the Senate (a senator who acts in the Vice President's absence) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written statement about being unable to perform the job as President, the Vice President will become Acting President.
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of those leaders that advise and work with the President send to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written statement that the President is unable to perform the job as President, such powers and duties shall be given to the Vice President as Acting President.
The President may send to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written statement that the President is able to once again perform the duties of President. The President may begin working again, unless the Vice President and a majority of those leaders that work with the President send within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written statement that the President is unable to perform the duties of President. After this, Congress shall decide what happens. Within 48 hours they must meet. Within 21 days they must decide by a two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to perform the duties of President and the Vice President shall continue as Acting President; otherwise, the President will once again begin to perform the duties of the President.
AMENDMENT XXVI (Made the national voting age 18)
Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Approved July 1, 1971.
Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of the 26th Amendment.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are at least 18 years of age or older to vote, shall not be denied or changed by the United States or by any State.
AMENDMENT XXVII (Lawmakers only get pay increases after elections)
Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Approved May 7, 1992.
No law raising the pay of Senators and Representatives shall take effect until after the next election.