Home Article 5 What You Need to Know About Proposed and Unratified Amendments

What You Need to Know About Proposed and Unratified Amendments

What You Need to Know About Proposed and Unratified AmendmentsTo date, six Amendments have been proposed for ratification
but did not achieve the votes in the State legislatures necessary for ratification. Of these six, four are still

Article One of the original Bill of Rights, more commonly known as the First Article, was designed to control the size of electoral districts by setting specific mandates about how many representatives a State would receive based upon the population of that State. It was proposed by the first Congress in 1789 and eleven states ratified it by 1792, which was just short of the number needed.

Even if it had been ratified, nearly all Constitutional historians feel it would have been either amended or repealed eventually, as its mathematical means of calculating and capping population to a representative ratios would have been unrealistic as the country’s population expanded and exploded. Under the specifications of the Article, if the amount of representatives were held at the original ratio (one representative to every 50,000 persons), then based on the 2000 Census there would be 5,628 representatives. The Amendment is still active, technically, but its chances of passing are nonexistent.

The Titles of Nobility Amendment proposed that any a citizen who accepted a title of nobility from a government that is overseen by a monarch would automatically disavow their American citizenship and be forbidden from ever holding a Government office. It was proposed in 1810, during a period where the United States was still antagonistic toward
Great Britain (which led to the War of 1812) as well as Emperor Napoleon’s regime in France, and therefore, there was a virulent strain of anti-nobility in the country.

Despite this, only 12 states ratified the document before 1812, and none have since. While the proposal remains active, it would require another 26 states to ratify it. Since the political significance of royalty the world over has essentially declined and many Americans hold titles from foreign governments while still being proud and productive Americans, it likely will never be ratified, nor does it need to be.

The Corwin Amendment was a controversial Amendment in its time, which would have, in essence, forbidden Congress from interfering or abolishing State policies, which was mainly a way of preventing the Congress from abolishing slavery in states where it was already practiced. At the time, it was seen as a means of staving off the Civil War, but it was ineffectual as the Confederate States of America was already committed to declaring independence by that point.

It was only ratified by two states, and by another State’s Constitutional Convention, and while it is technically still active, the passage of the thirteenth Amendment would negate its validity based on the doctrine of stare decisis. (See Coleman v. Miller, which determined that Amendments proposed without a time limit will remain active indefinitely. As a result, subsequent proposed Amendments have often had a time limit imposed upon them.)

The Equal Rights Amendment would have essentially forbidden discrimination or limitation of an individual’s rights based on sex. While it passed in both Houses of Congress, it was only ratified before its deadline in 1979 by 35 states. When it failed to pass, Congress,
in a move considered very controversial, extended its deadline by another three years in a move that was due to face judicial review but was not able to make it before the new 1982 deadline.

Since no new ratifications happened during the period, with five states in fact rescinding their approval for the ERA, the deadline was allowed to expire. A new Equal Rights Amendment was proposed in the House of Representatives in 2009 and is still pending proposal status.

The District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment was proposed in 1978 and would have granted the District full rights of representation in Congress and full participation in the Electoral College (as well as a role in deciding Constitutional Amendments), but it was only ratified by 16 states before it expired in 1985.