United States Amendments
Amendment I – Freedom of Religion, Speech and the Press;
Rights of Assembly and Petition.
Amendment II – Right to Bear Arms
Prohibits only the national government from limiting the right to carry weapons. The amendment was adopted so that
Congress could not disarm a state militia.
Amendment III – Housing of Soldiers
Grew directly out of an old complaint against the British, who had forced people to take soldiers into their homes.
Amendment IV – Search and Seizure
Does NOT forbid authorities to search, to seize goods, or arrest people. Most cases require a search warrant from a
judge. Supreme Court held that evidence obtained in violation of the 4th Amendment may not be admitted in a
Amendment V – Rights in Criminal Cases (Self-incrimination, Double Jeopardy, Due
Process, Just Compensation) *grants due process in federal cases
Amendment VI- Rights to a Fair Trial (Speedy and Public Trial by Jury*, Tried in state
where crime was committed, Informed of charges against accused, Witnesses, Right to a
Amendment VII- Rights in Civil Cases (Trial by jury in civil cases over $20)
7th Amendment only applies to FEDERAL courts, but most state constitutions also call for jury trials in civil cases.
Amendment VIII – Bails, Fines and Punishments
Bails, fines and punishments must be humane. (In 1972 in Furman v. Georgia, Supreme Court held that the death
penalty was cruel and unusual punishment because it was not applied fairly and uniformly. Many states adopted new
capital punishment laws…Court ruled certain standards are applied)
Amendment IX – Rights Retained by the People
Some feared that the listing of some rights in the Bill of Rights would be interpreted to mean that other rights not listed
were not protected. 9th was adopted to prevent such an interpretation.
Amendment X – Powers Retained by the States and the People
Confirms that the states or people have all powers not given to national government. (ie: marriage)
Amendment XI – Lawsuits Against States
It is impossible for the citizen of one state to sue another state. (So, Handa can’t sue Hawaii) But, a person still has the
right to sue state authorities in federal court for depriving them of const. rights.
Amendment XII – Election of President and Vice President
(1804) Provides that members of the electoral college (called electors), vote for one person as president and one person
as vice president. (1800 election was a tie –T. Jefferson, A. Burr-used to be that the top vote-getter was pres. and 2nd
place was the v.p.)
Amendment XIII – Abolition of Slavery
(December 6,1865) “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party
shall have been duly convicted, shall exist in the U.S., or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” (section 1)
Amendment XIV- Civil Rights
(1868) “All persons born or naturalized in the U.S. and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the U.S. and
of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or
immunities of citizens of the U.S.; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (section 1)
*Refers to STATE governments, right to state due process (5th amendment: federal due process)
Amendment XV – African American Suffrage
(1870) “The rights of citizens of the U.S. to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S, or by any state on account
of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” (does not specifically say African Americans must be allowed to
vote, but a voter cannot be denied because of race)
*note that there is no mention of gender…
Amendment XVI – Income Taxes
Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes
Amendment XVII- Direct Election of Senators
The states have the power to directly elect senators to represent them. (before this, the state legislature decided who
the senators were)
Amendment XVIII- Prohibition of Liquor
(1919) Forbade people to make, sell, or transport liquor. (think of bootleggers and the MOB…)
*This was obviously repealed (taken back)
Amendment XIX- Women’s Suffrage
(1920…FINALLY!) “The right of citizens of the U.S. to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any
state on account of sex.” (Amendments giving women the right to vote were introduced in Congress for more than 40
years before this one was passed!!!!!!!)
Amendment XX- Terms of President and Congress
Moves the date that newly elected presidents and members of Congress take office close to election time. President:
January 20th, Congress: January 3rd
(called the lame duck amendment-a lame duck is a government official who continues to serve in office though not
reelected to another term. Before this, officials remained in office for 4 months)
Amendment XXI-Repeal of Prohibition
(1933) Repeals the 18th amendment.
Amendment XXII- Limitation of Presidents to Two Terms
No person can be elected president more than twice. No one who has served as president for more than two years of
someone else’s term can be elected more than once.
Amendment XXIII- Suffrage in the District of Columbia
Allows citizens of Washington D.C. to vote in the presidential elections. However, they cannot vote for members of
Amendment XXIV-Poll Taxes
Forbids making voters pay a poll tax before they can vote in a national election. (Forbidden by the 14th amendment.
Comes from the old English word poll, meaning head) Some states once used these to keep poor people and African
Americans from voting.
Amendment XXV- Presidential Disability and Succession
(1967) If president is removed, dies, or is resigns, the vice president becomes president. The president fulfills a vice
president vacancy, by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
(Gerald Ford-1973- became 1st v.p. appointed this way. Ford nominated by Nixon, when v.p. Agnew resigned. Nixon
resigned in 1974 and Ford became president. Then, Nelson Rockefeller became v.p. and this was the 1st time neither
official had been elected.)
Amendment XXVI- Suffrage for 18-Year-Olds!!!!
(1971) “The right of citizens of the U.S., who are eighteen year of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged
by the U.S. or by any state on account of age.”
Amendment XXVII- Congressional Pay Raises
Any increase in congressional pay does not go into effect until after the next regular election of the House of
United States Amendments