Proposed Amendments not Ratified by the States

During the course of our history, in addition to the 27 amendments which have been ratified by the required three-fourths of the States, six other amendments have been submitted to the States but have not been ratified by them.

Beginning with the proposed Eighteenth Amendment, Congress has customarily included a provision requiring ratification within seven years from the time of the submission to the States. The Supreme Court in Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939), declared that the question of the reasonableness of the time within which a sufficient number of States must act is a political question to be determined by the 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 following is the text of proposed Article I:

Article I. 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.

Thereafter, in the 2d session of the 11th Congress, the Congress proposed the following amendment to the Constitution relating to acceptance by citizens of the United States of titles of nobility from any foreign government.

The proposed amendment which was not ratified by three-fourths of the States reads as follows:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both Houses concurring), That the following section be submitted to the legislatures of the several states, which, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the states, shall be valid and binding, as a part of the constitution of the United States.

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.

During the second session of the 36th Congress on March 2, 1861, the following proposed amendment to the Constitution relating to slavery was signed by the President. It is interesting to note in this connection that this is the only proposed amendment to the Constitution ever signed by the President. The President’s signature is considered unnecessary because of the constitutional provision that upon the concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses of Congress the proposal shall be submitted to the States and shall be ratified by three-fourths of the States.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said Legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, viz:

“ARTICLE THIRTEEN

“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.”

In more recent times, only three proposed amendments have not been ratified by three-fourths of the States. The first is the proposed child-labor amendment, which was submitted to the States during the 1st session of the 68th Congress in June 1924, as follows:

Joint Resolution Proposing An Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, shall be valid to all intents and purposes as a part of the Constitution:

ARTICLE

Section 1. The Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under 18 years of age.

Section 2. The power of the several States is unimpaired by this article except that the operation of State laws shall be suspended to the extent necessary to give effect to legislation enacted by the Congress.

The second proposed amendment to have failed of ratification is the equal rights amendment, which formally died on June 30, 1982, after a disputed congressional extension of the original seven-year period for ratification.

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 208

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That

The following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission by the Congress:

“SECTION 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

“SECTION 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

“SECTION 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”

The third proposed amendment relating to representation in Congress for the District of Columbia failed of ratification, 16 States having ratified as of the 1985 expiration date for the ratification period.

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 554

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission by the Congress:

“ARTICLE

“Section 1. 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.

“Sec. 2. The exercise of the rights and powers conferred under this article shall be by the people of the District constituting the seat of government, and as shall be provided by the Congress.

“Sec. 3. The twenty-third article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

“Sec. 4. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.”