Home Constitutional Amendments

Constitutional Amendments

Understanding the 19th Amendment

Understanding the 19th Amendment

The Nineteenth Amendment is another Amendment to the United States Constitution that was implemented in order to provide for a guarantee of civil rights to all citizens of the United States. In the vein of the Fifteenth Amendment, the Nineteenth Amendment would call for the prohibition of the state and Federal governments to deny a citizen the right to vote due the citizen's sex. It would take fifty years for women to obtain that right which was granted to free men in 1870 by virtue of the Fifteenth Amendment. The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920. 

The Nineteenth Amendment states, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this Article by appropriate legislation." Though the Women's Rights Movement for Suffrage was already underway in previous years, it would not be until the adoption of the 19th Amendment in which they would ultimately reach success.

Women suffrage can be traced back to 1848 to the "Declaration of Sentiments" delivered in Seneca Falls, NY, which would be the first Woman's Rights Convention held in the United States. Women suffragists sought their inclusion in recognition of voting rights provided by the Fifteenth Amendment, but evidently did not make a strong enough case for universal suffrage. It would be in 1878, where the Constitutional Amendment, including what is now Section I of the Nineteenth Amendment, would be proposed.

Congress would hear the inclusion of this Amendment in every session for the next 41 years until it was finally approved.  However, it is not to say that certain states did not grant women the right vote. The inclusion of Wyoming as a state in 1890 in turn made the new State of Wyoming the first state allowing women the vote. Other states, such as Colorado, Utah, and Idaho would also follow suit in years to come. 

On the national level, support for women suffrage would arrive at its most successful step to date on January 9th, 1918, when President Woodrow Wilson announced his support for what would eventually become the 19th Amendment. The bill was voted on the following day, in which the House of Representatives managed to pass the Amendment, but the Senate would eventually vote on it in October of the same year and fail to pass it by three votes. It would finally get voted on once again in 1920, when Harry Burns would provide the necessary vote for the State of Tennessee to become the 36th State necessary to pass the Nineteenth Amendment into law.

It was quite the controversial move on Burns' part, considering that it was primarily the southern states of the U.S. that were most adamantly opposed to the 19th Amendment. However, the Nineteenth Amendment and its ratification would prove to be one of the most important changes in the history of the United States, further expanding the protection of civil rights for all citizens. 

Understanding the 20th Amendment

Understanding the 20th Amendment

The Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution addresses the terms of elected Federal officials, including the President, Vice-President, and members of Congress. Specifically, it defines the actual dates on which those terms begin and end. The 20th Amendment also provides for guidelines to be followed in the scenario that there is no President-elect. The Twentieth Amendment was ratified into the U.S. Constitution on January 23, 1933. 

Of the Amendments to the Constitution, it is of particular interest that the terms of elected Federal officials remained unchanged or unrevised until 1933, when the Twentieth Amendment was ratified. It provides for important provisions that, at first glance, seem to have been crucial enough to be addressed in earlier times.

The Twentieth Amendment is divided into six sections, with the first four containing the substance of the proposed changes in legislature. The first section details that the terms of the President and Vice President are to end at noon on January 20th, and at noon on January 3rd for Senators and Representatives. The terms for the President and Vice President are a length of four years, while members of Congress retain their positions for a period of six years.

The Second Section mandates that Congress is to meet at least once a year, with the one meeting being on noon of the 3rd of January, which would be the first meeting with new Congress members in the event of the start of a new term.

The situation arising of no President-elect is addressed in Section Three of the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution. If the President-elect dies before the term begins on the specified date, the Vice President-elect is to become President. This situation also applies if the President-elect has been chosen by the beginning of the term or if the President fails to qualify. In the extenuating circumstance that both the President and Vice President-elect fail to qualify, Congress is allowed by law to declare who is to become President until a President or Vice President qualifies for office. In the case that a person from the House of Representatives dies who has the responsibility to choose a President, and similarly for the person in the Senate choosing a Vice President, then Congress is allowed by law to undertake such responsibilities.

Finally, Sections Five and Six provide for a date on which the first two sections are to be enacted, 15th of October after the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment. The Amendment itself would have a period of seven years in which must be ratified; otherwise, it would be discarded. 

The Amendments to the Constitution regarding the terms of elected Federal officials changed the date on which a term was to begin, which was originally March 4th, four months after the actual elections were held. The implemented date was a consideration for the new officials in providing for ample time to move to the nation's capital. However, in modern times, this lapse in time would prove to be a hindrance rather than a positive consideration. Furthermore, Congressmen who were elected prior to the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would not actually enter office until over a year after their election. The lapse in time would produce what are referred to "lame duck" sessions held by Congress, which were unproductive and obsolete.

Particularly importance instances which marked the need for the Twentieth Amendment were the secession of the Southern states and the Great Depression, in which the new elected officials would have to wait four months before they could address these serious concerns.

Understanding the 21st Amendment

Understanding the 21st Amendment

The 21st Amendment is the only one introduced that would completely repeal another Amendment, the 18th Amendment. The Eighteenth Amendment implemented a national ban on alcoholic or "intoxicating" substances, which was commonly referred to as Prohibition. The 21st Amendment would call for the prohibition repeal, which would no longer prohibit the sale, manufacture, or transportation of alcoholic beverages. The 21st Amendment was ratified on December 5th, 1933 and was the only Amendment to be ratified by state ratifying conventions rather by state legislature, which would mark the prohibition repeal. 

It is clear that the 21st Amendment was a result of the failed prohibition of alcohol in the United States. Though consumption generally declined, organized crime and crime rates soared to levels never experienced by Americans before. Prohibition only applied to the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, but not actual consumption. Even though this would make alcohol extremely difficult to obtain, there would be those that would find illegal means to get their hands on alcohol and ample opportunity existed to derive a profit from such practice.

Bootleggers, speakeasies, and the rise of organized crime all were birthed as a reaction to the 18th Amendment. Criminals, such as notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone, would become millionaires and a general lawlessness would proliferate in the United States. Many would simply ignore the provisions set forth by Prohibition. Corruption was common among law enforcement and drinking would become a symbol of rebelliousness, which heightened its appeal. It became apparent that Prohibition, though a noble attempt and experiment, generally brought on more negative impacts than any positive gains to be brought from reducing the consumption of alcohol. 

The apparent need to reverse Prohibition became the general sentiment of the country. However, its overturning would prove to be more complicated because of the political power the Temperance Movement had garnered through lobbying. Congress would then have to employ one of two methods for ratifying Constitutional Amendments, which had never been used before. Normally, ratification by State legislature was the avenue taken for Amendment ratification, requiring the approval of three-fourths of the states.

The other method, as provided by the United States Constitution, is by State conventions. State conventions abide by a loose ratification process, which is similar to that of the "one-state, one-vote" national referendum.  The 21sth Amendment would be the only Amendment to the United States Constitution to be ratified using this method. 

The overturning of Prohibition would, therefore, delegate responsibility of regulating alcohol laws to the states. Even though the 21st Amendment was approved, several states continued to follow the doctrine of Prohibition. For example, Missouri would remain alcohol-free until 1966, while Kansas did not allow public bars until 1987. Some states go as far as allowing counties and/or municipalities to impose their own regulations regarding alcoholic beverages. The interpretation of the provisions in the second section of the 21st Amendment allowed for the states to maintain the right to control alcoholic beverages.

Understanding the 6th Amendment

Understanding the 6th Amendment

The Sixth Amendment sets forth provisions regarding criminal prosecutions. It grants certain rights to the accused in order to ensure a fair and just trial and verdict rendering. Because under United States law an individual is "innocent until proven guilty", it is important for those facing accusations or allegations of a crime to be provided with specific rights.

The Sixth Amendment provides for six distinct rights under its provisions:

1)         Speedy Trial

2)         Public Trial

3)         Impartial Jury

4)         Notice of Accusation

5)         Confrontation

6)         Counsel.


A speedy trial is a right to a defendant in criminal court proceedings. A speedy trial is defined by certain categories in order to provide that such a right has not been violated in any way. If a trial is to be delayed, the length of delay will come into question. Though there is no set time limit imposed from the day the defendant is brought into custody or indictment occurs, if the trial delay lasts over a year, it is considered as "presumptively prejudicial" and deemed a violation of Sixth Amendment rights, thus necessitating an acquittal.

The delay is also subject to the requirement that a just reason be provided, such as the prosecution delaying trial in order to provide and secure for witnesses or evidence for their case. However, the delay must be considered reasonable and may be subject to the length of deal provision. If a defendant agrees or coincides with the decision for a delay, which is beneficial to his/her case, the defendant cannot at a later time claim a violation of 6th Amendment rights. If the delay has caused any kind of prejudice that may prove to affect the court's decision, a violation may be claimed. 

The defendant has the right to a public trial, but the right is not always granted in cases where a public trial can effectively affect the outcome of the court's decision. If a public trial can be proven to affect due process, such right may not be granted to the defendant. In certain instances, a closed trial may be in order at the request of either the defendant or the courts, with the court having the final decision on the matter. It must be proven that public trial will affect the defendant's right to a fair trial and such publicity has the propensity of creating prejudice against the defendant.

An impartial jury is an important aspect considered under the 6th Amendment, for it ensures a defendant's right to a fair trial and due process. Juries must be free of bias, and both sides of the litigation may question possible jurors for the case in order to determine if any prejudice or bias exists. A jury must also represent an appropriate cross-section of the community to further ensure that no bias is to be found among them.

Before a defendant is brought to trial, he/she has the right to be completely informed on the nature of the accusations, as well as all of the actions committed that have led to such allegations. The defendant must be informed of all actions allegedly committed in a precise and accurate manner. This is also a protection under the Double Jeopardy Fifth Amendment Clause. A defendant has the right to know all aspects regarding the charges and accusations so that double jeopardy can be implemented in the case that the defendant is tried for same crime in the event of being acquitted.

Confrontation refers to the defense having the right to cross-examine witnesses in order to prevent hearsay as admission for consideration in the rendering of the court decision or verdict. The defendant must have the opportunity to challenge the credibility of the witness. This clause also includes the defendant's right to provide for witnesses in his/her favor in order to aid their case. The presentation of evidence is also included under the right for cross-examination to determine validity and overall meaning to its pertinence to the case.

A defendant has the right to be represented by an attorney under the Sixth Amendment in order to ensure that the defense is equally knowledgeable and skilled in law. If the defendant does not have the economical means to hire a private attorney, he/she has the right to be provided one by the courts in the form of a public defense. However, the defendant has the right to waive this clause of the 6th Amendment, for Self-representation is also a right granted under this Amendment.  

Understanding the 7th Amendment

Understanding the 7th Amendment

The 7th Amendment under the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution gives an individual the right to a jury trial. The 7th Amendment is quite similar to the provisions held in the 6th Amendment regarding jury trials. However, the 7th Amendment deals with jury trials for common law suits. The Seventh Amendment states, "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law." 

The text itself reflects much of the times in which it was drafted, for it can be considered that no individual will bring to suit any situation regarding a dispute over twenty dollars. Surely, that amount was more valuable than it is today, and any situation involving at least twenty dollars warranted the right to a jury trial.

The 7th Amendment ensures that citizens have to right to have a court–whether a common law or civil law court–hear their case on the Federal level by a jury consisting of their peers. 

The 7th Amendment was included in the Constitution in order for all court disputes to render decisions by a jury, without having a judge's bias sway their decision or influence the jury trial in anyway. The provision creates for a distinction between the responsibilities of a judge and those of the jury in a Federal civil court. Judges hold their positions simply to evaluate evidence in terms of its legal consideration in the jury trial, provide for guidance and instruction to the jury, and provide for advice on the actual law. A jury is responsible for evaluating evidence in terms of how it affects a verdict, and determine which side, the plaintiff or the defendant, has proven without a reasonable doubt the facts of their case.  In certain cases, a jury may also have the power to decide the amounts to be awarded to the victor in a jury trial.

Though judges do have a role in the actual outcome of jury trial, they are restricted in their participation. They have the authority to instruct the jury to mind a particular aspect of evidence presented or require that certain questions be answered before rendering a verdict. Because the judge has the responsibility of determining whether or not evidence is valid for consideration under law, and if a plaintiff's evidence is invalid or insufficient, the judge may instruct the jury to render a verdict to the defendant, as is allowed by law. 

The 7th Amendment also exists as a check against judges from overstepping their boundaries because of their positions of power. The judge does not have the authority to tell the jury how to rule or render a verdict in any case. Furthermore, the judge cannot persuade the jury to reach a certain decision.

Though a judge and a jury will work together in a jury trial case, their responsibilities are separate from each other. The 7th Amendment was included by using as a precursor English civil and common law and the documented history of corruption displayed in prior times. It was not uncommon that judges would often render a decision that would most benefit the King or their own will. The right to a jury trial and the distinction of the roles of a judge and jury outlined the inherent responsibilities of those positions and any kind of action biased in nature by either of those in such roles would be unconstitutional. 

Understanding the 8th Amendment

Understanding the 8th Amendment

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States serves to protect those found guilty of crimes from being treated unfairly and in an unlawful manner. The Eighth Amendment reads, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." 

Eighth Amendment rights include three distinct clauses that provide for certain rights to individuals convicted of a crime. Like many of the Amendments under the Bill of Rights, the inclusion of the Eighth Amendment has precedence in English Law. Much of the reason for inclusion of the Eighth Amendment is due to a particular case in England, where a man was sentenced to imprisonment, which also included whipping and being put to the stocks for two days. This individual, Titus Oates, was found guilty of committing perjury, a common and ordinary crime that would not warrant such punishment. Eventually, "cruel and unusual punishment" would be barred by the English Parliament in 1689, four years after the Oates ordeal. 

The Eighth Amendment would not only include the outlawing of excessive and cruel punishment, but would also provide for unfair and excessive bail and fines to be implemented on an individual. The excessive bail clause limits the power of the courts of set bail for an accused or alleged criminal during arrest before the trial is to commence.

Bail refers to the amount of money that an accused individual must present as collateral for their guaranteed appearance at the set court date for the criminal proceedings. After the result of the case, regardless of the verdict rendered, the accused has the right to retrieve the amount that was given. If the accused individual, however, fails to appear in court on the set date and time, the defendant will lose or forfeit the amount of money given and may face further charges for not being present in court on the imposed date.

The amount of bail for an accused person is determined by a number of factors:

          The severity of the alleged crime;

          The weight of evidence against the defendant;

          The moral character proven by the defendant, such as conduct with the family or occupation, as well as involvement in the community;

          The ability of the defendant to pay a certain amount;

          Whether or not the defendant will flee or not meet the court date if released on bail.

Understanding the 9th Amendment

Understanding the 9th Amendment

The inclusion of the Bill of Rights into the United States Constitution was met with some controversy and opposition. Even though the Bill of Rights is heralded as some of the most important legislation that the United States Constitution has to offer, as the document was being ratified by the states, arguments arose opposing its inclusion.

The Federalists held that the inclusion of a Bill of Rights could prove to lead to problems regarding the interpretation of those laws included within, and more importantly, those not. The main argument posed by Federalists such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison was that enumerating certain laws into legislation could be implying that those not strictly included or discussed within the text of the legislation are not to be considered as rights or laws. The Federalists also contended that it would be an exercise in futility to account for and list all of the fundamental rights of the people in one document. For the sense of clarity and concise presentation of laws, a Bill of Rights would seem to be pointless. In enumerating certain rights, but not others, the Federalists also feared that this would leave the Government to have more authority in interpreting those rights not listed, and possibly leave the door open for the Government to infringe on certain basic and fundamental human rights. 

The 9th Amendment arose out of the disputes over the inclusion of a Bill of Rights and its effect on the ratification of the United States Constitution by certain states. The inclusion of the 9th Amendment was to address the issue that even though certain rights were not enumerated or explicitly included within the provisions of the first eight Amendments, they are protected by virtue and fall within and are protected by the provisions of those included in the United States Constitution.

The 9th Amendment states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In other words, simply because there are rights not included in the text, that does not deny their existence nor does it give the Government control over those implied rights, and more specifically, does not give the authority to infringe upon those fundamental rights.

In more recent applications, the 9th Amendment has been viewed as evidence that certain rights exist that are granted to the people even though they are not explicitly enumerated by the United States Constitution, but are still protected under other provisions and included by virtue of the other Amendments. 

The most notorious case regarding the 9th Amendment is Griswold v. Connecticut, in which a State law prohibiting the use of contraceptives was challenged as infringing on the right of marital privacy. Even though the concept of marital privacy is not included within the text of the United States Constitution, it is, by virtue, one of those natural and inherent rights that must be protected. Therefore, it was decided that martial privacy, though not found in the first eight Amendments, is still protected by the First Amendment, as well as the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments through association.

The 9th Amendment and its inclusion into the Bill of Rights is crucial for the proper interpretation of its provisions, while also securing protection of those rights inherently granted to the people as natural by virtue. 

Understanding the 10th Amendment

Understanding the 10th Amendment

The Tenth Amendment bears a certain resemblance to the Ninth Amendment in that it grants authority or powers to a certain faction that are not explicitly included or enumerated under the United States Constitution. However, in the case of the Tenth Amendment, the powers granted are to the State, rather than certain natural rights to individuals.

The text of the 10th Amendment reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people." Under the United States Constitution, there are certain provisions that place responsibility or authoritative powers to the Federal government. However, other powers not strictly assigned to the central Government, and not explicitly restricted to the State, are to be granted to the States themselves. 

The most important concept behind the Tenth Amendment is that it provides for the general principles of Federalism as the form of the United States Government. Federalism is the system of government in which the power to govern is shared between a national or central government and the state governments, which is divided under Constitutional provisions. This concept had already been addressed under certain provisions of the Articles of Confederation and was, once again, reflected in the drafting of the Constitution.

Under the Constitution, the branches of Government–the executive, legislative, and judicial–are granted powers as the central or Federal Government. The Tenth Amendment serves as a system of checks and balances by providing certain authority to the States, which would prevent the central Federal Government from garnering too much power and creating the potential of what the United States already had experienced with England. 

The Tenth Amendment is evident in today's world and has modern applications. States will employ the Tenth Amendment in certain situations when they seek exemption from regulations created by the Federal Government. Federalism allows for states to impose certain laws that are to be governed by each individual state.

States will often have their own labor and environment controls that are free from Federal statutes. Such was the case in New York v. United States, where certain Federal laws imposed certain regulations regarding the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act. A particular provision was questioned and brought before the Supreme Court, with the State of New York claiming that the Federal Government did not have the authority to hold states liable for damages regarding waste. Under Federal provisions, States were responsible for all waste within their borders and would be liable for any damages incurred by such waste. The Tenth Amendment was upheld and the Supreme Court ruled that such an imposition violated the provisions under the Amendment.

Another example would be the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which required all states to conduct background checks on those seeking to purchase handguns. The Tenth Amendment would also render this Federal legislation as unconstitutional.

One of the current topics of controversy under the Obama Administration is in regards to an application of the Tenth Amendment to State medical marijuana laws. Currently, there are fourteen states that have implemented marijuana laws that permit its use for medical purposes. The passing of such state laws is legal under the Tenth Amendment, but the dispute arises out of the authority the Federal Government has over laws regarding illicit or controlled substances. 

Understanding the 11th Amendment

Understanding the 11th Amendment

The Eleventh Amendment was the first to revise the Constitution after the ratification of the first ten in the Bill of Rights. The Eleventh Amendment was passed by Congress on March 4th, 1794, and ratified by a 3/4 state majority on February 7, 1795–New Jersey and Pennsylvania being the only two states not to ratify the Eleventh Amendment.

The Eleventh Amendment states, "The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against or of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State."  In other words, the Federal courts are limited and restricted from hearing lawsuits against any state's government that are brought by citizens of another state or foreign country. An example of this would be the State of New York enacting the Eleventh Amendment to protect itself from being sued in a Federal court by people living in the state, as well as residents of other states, or a foreign country.

The Eleventh Amendment resulted due to Chisholm v. Georgia, in which Alexander Chisholm sued the State of Georgia for a debt that was owed to Captain Robert Farquhar. Farquhar was a merchant in South Carolina who sold supplies to the State of Georgia on credit. After the war, Georgia decided that it would not pay its debt on the basis that Farquhar was allegedly a British loyalist. Farquhar left Chisolm as the executor of his estate upon his death, which enabled him to bring suit against Georgia. The lawsuit was heard by the Supreme Court and rendered a decision in Chisolm's favor.

The verdict would be the subject of much controversy and disapproval by the many states, most obviously and notably, the State of Georgia. The resentment was such that the State of Georgia passed a law stating that anyone that would adhere to the verdict given in the Chisholm case would be liable to hanging.

The Eleventh Amendment was drafted and proposed, and quickly ratified into law, which reversed the original decision by the Supreme Court judicial branch. The protection of the State from being sued in a Federal court became known as Sovereign Immunity. Originally, the Eleventh Amendment only barred citizens of other states suing a state in a judicial branch jurisdiction, but it was extended to include residents of the same state as well through the Hans v. Louisiana case.

Even though Sovereign Immunity is granted by the Eleventh Amendment, there are four exceptions in which the Supreme Court and Federal judicial branch may hear a lawsuit levied against a state. The Eleventh Amendment does not protect a state's political subdivisions, such as counties, cities, or municipalities, which are all liable to be sued in a Federal judicial branch jurisdiction. Also, under the Eleventh Amendment states have the right to waive their Sovereign Immunity and allow a suit in a Federal court.

In certain cases, Congress allows for a state to be sued and heard in a Federal court under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The last exception relates to the citizens seeking an injunction against state officials in a Federal court, if they are in violation of a Federal law. The litigation remedy applies strictly to only injunction relief, but not monetary damages that would be furnished by the State's Treasury Department. 

Understanding the 12th Amendment

Understanding the 12th Amendment

The Twelfth Constitutional Amendment provides for one of the most important provisions in the United States Constitution and is one of the Amendments that would change how the United States Government would be shaped and select its leaders. The Twelfth Amendment was introduced by Congress on December 9th, 1803, and ratified by the states on June 15th, 1804.

This Constitutional Amendment would provide for the process in which the President and Vice-President of the United States would be elected, creating what is now known as the Electoral College. Though there was already a procedure in place to elect the President and Vice-President, the original proved to have some fallacies which were made apparent in the 1796 and 1800 elections. 

Prior to the inclusion of the Twelfth Amendment, the procedure called for each elector to cast two votes, and those two votes could not be for two people within the State of residency of said elector. If one person received the majority of votes, that person would win the election. If more than one would receive the majority of votes, it would be up to the House of Representatives to choose one of those individuals to become President. If no majority could be determined, the House would choose from five individuals with the most electoral votes.

The Vice-President would be chosen by appointing the person with the second highest number of electoral votes with the position. The majority of votes was not required for becoming Vice-President. If there was a tie for second place, the Senate would appoint the Vice-President, with each member casting a vote. However, it was never included in the Constitution whether or not the current Vice-President could cast a vote that could render a tie-breaking decision. 

Under this system, the 1796 election resulted in having a President, John Adams, a member of the Federalist Party, and Thomas Jefferson, a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, being elected Vice-President. This occurred because members of the Federalist Party decided to use their second vote and disperse them among various candidates, which allowed for Jefferson to garner the second most electoral votes, and thus, being appointed to the position. In having two different party members elected to the President and Vice-President positions, the inherent differences in political agendas and philosophies would ultimately clash, thus making it extremely difficult to work together.

The 1800 election posed another problem with the original procedure, where a tie could potentially always occur if the Electoral College voted in accordance to their political party affiliation. This would result in the House of Representatives undertaking multiple ballots to determine a President. 

With the introduction of the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, a new system would be implemented regarding the casting of votes. The actual structure of the Electoral College would not change, however. Instead of casting two votes for a Presidential candidate, the new Amendment required two distinct votes: one for President and the other for Vice President. A majority of electoral votes was still required to be elected to either office or position. In the event that there was no majority, the House of Representatives would choose a President under the guidelines of the original procedure.

The only difference under the Twelfth Constitutional Amendment is that the House would choose among three of the people receiving the most electoral votes, rather than the five prescribed in the original process. The Senate would choose a Vice President in the case of no majority, among the two having the most votes. If in the case that there are multiple individuals in a tie for second place, they would also be considered.

A new procedure introduced by the new Amendment was the requirement of a two-thirds quorum for balloting procedures. It also provided that if no decision could be reached for a President by March 4th, the first day of the Presidential term, then the elected Vice-President would act as the President. However, the Presidency term date would be eventually revised and changed to January 20th. If no President or Vice-President were to be elected upon that date, Congress would appoint a President who would meet the necessary qualifications to take that position.