Government: Chapter 3 Lesson 3 Amendments
Terms in this set (39)
Amending the Constitution
The Constitution has met the needs of the changing society over the centuries and preserved the basic institutions and principles of government that Framers created in 1787.
The Constitution's flexibility was necessary.
One way it can be adapted to changing ties is through amending the document. The amendment process is explained in Article V.
Steps to Do so
There are 2 steps to amending the Constitution.
1st amendment must first be proposed and then it must be ratified. In
They are proposed at a national level and repeated in a state by state process.
There are 2 ways to propose amendments and 2 ways to ratify - way to propose
1) To propose, ⅔ vote in House and Senate
2) To propose, ⅔ of states to ask Congress to call a convention to debate and then vote on the proposed amendment.'
All current amendments were proposed with the congressional vote method. Dozens of proposals are introduced each year, like limits on income taxes, limiting the term of SC justices, giving states complete control of oil deposits in their borders. None have gotten the vote to be proposed.
There are 2 ways to propose amendments and 2 ways to ratify - way to ratify
When an amendment is proposed, Congress can choose from 2 methods for getting state approval.
1) Legislatures in ¾ of states can ratify the amendment.
2) States hold special conventions and then to have ¾ of the conventions approve it.
Almost all amendments have been ratified with the state legislature method. State ratifying conventions was only used once, for the 21st Amendment which repealed the 18th.
How do conventions get their delegates?
Congress let each state legislature determine how delegates would be elected to ratifying conventions. Delegates ran for election on a ledge to support it or reject it. At the conventions, the elected delegates voted, this method gave the people a direct voice in the amending process.
Congress rules for ratification
Set time limit for states to ratify an amendment (7 years). Has a large influence on whether an amendment gets the number of states to pass.
History of the Amendment process
Over 11k amendments have been proposed, only 27 have been ratified because the process is extremely complicated and an amendment is only adopted when there is a broad national consensus on the issue. Founders wanted to make this difficult because they believed most issues should be resolved by the ordinary political process. They wanted permanent changes to the Constitution to reflect extraordinary consensus.
Why some proposals are proposed
Sometimes proposals to amend it reflect deep political division among the branches.
EX: 1989 - SC heard a case TX vs. Johnson (see SC doc). SC ruled that burning the flag in political protest is symbolic speech protected by the 1st amendment so the TX law was unconstitutional;. Many were outraged and the next day a Congressman introduced a bill to ban any form of flag desecration. It did not pass.
Bill of Rights
1788 - political leaders in MA and VA refused to support it without a bill of rights limiting power of the new federal government. Said it lacked assurances that the new national government would not infringe upon people's rights. To help ensure ratification, supporters of it promised a list of basic inalienable rights and in 1791 the states ratified 10 amendments (BOR).
It protected individual rights by limiting government powers. Originally the BOR applied to only the national government, but almost all of its provisions have been incorporated into states through court decisions meaning its protections cover the states. This is known as the incorporation doctrine an interpretation of the Constitution means the due process clause of the 14th require state and local governments to guarantee the citizens' rights in the BOR.
Freedom of speech, religion, protest, and press.
Congress can;t establish a national religion (Establishment Clause)
Congress can't prevent people from practicing their religion (Free Exercise Clause).
Known as separation of church and state (Est. Clause) and Freedom of religion (Free Exercise Clause).
Government can't prevent individuals from expressing their opinions, even criticism for government.
The Government cannot censor media information.
Freedom of speech is not unlimited -- does not extend to lies told with intent to damage a person's reputation, speech that endangers a nation by giving away military secrets, speech calling for violent overthrow of the government.
Despite freedom of protest, courts ruled that government can require a group to obtain a permit before holding meetings/demonstrations.
Protects right to sign petitions.
Right to security/bear arms.
SC ruled in 2008, to clarify the Second Amendment, ruling 5-4, (District of Columbia v Heller), that the amendment protects American's rights to use handguns for legitimate, lawful purposes like defending their homes. However, like freedom of speech, it was not unlimited and guns could be reasonably regulated.
2010- SC extended 2nd Amendment protections to apply to states as well as the federal government in McDonald Vs Chicago.
Bans the government from forcing people to provide soldiers with shelter in their home. However, in a time of war, Congress can require a homeowner to house soldiers, but only under conditions clearly spelled out by law.
Reflects the early Americans desire to protect their privacy.
BR used writs of assistance - general search warrants -- to enter private residences to search for smuggled goods. This amendment limits the government's power to conduct searches and seizures by protecting their right to privacy.
- Authorities must have a specific reason to search or seize evidence. Only with notable exceptions police can;t conduct a search hoping to fund evidence for arrest people on chance they may be guilty.
To be lawful, a search usually is based on probable cause. Must get a search warrant- order signed by judge describing the place to be searched and the items to be seized. Same for arrest warrants.
Has 4 important protections for people accused of crimes
-No one can be tried for serious crimes unless a grand jury decided there was enough evidence to justify a trial.
-No double jeopardy.
-No one may be forced to testify against themselves. People questioned by the police, standing trial, and testifying before a congressional hearing can refuse to answer questions (plead the 5th) if their answers would connect them with a crime. People can't be forced to convict themselves, the government has too.
- No once can be deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law so they must follow constitutional procedures in all actions against individuals.
Also defines the government's right of eminent domain - the power to take private property for public use, as long as they pay a fair price for property and it must benefit the public (its use).
Amendment gives accused several rights - right to speedy, public trial by an impartial jury.
Authorities can;t purposely hold a person for an unreasonably long time while awaiting trial. Prevents the government from silencing critics (happens under dictatorships). Public trial assures that justice is carried out in full view of people.
Provides for a trial by jury, though the accused could ask for judge alone. Gives accused persons the right to know the charges against them so they can prepare a defense and have the right to hear and question all witnesses against them, compel witnesses to testify for them and be defended by a lawyer
Provides for the right to trial by jury in federal courts to settle all disputes about property worth more than $20. When both parties in a conflict agree, however, a judge rather than a jury may hear evidence and decide the case.
Bans excessive bail - money or property that the accused deposits with the court to gain release from jail until trial. Judge sets bail in an amount that ensures the accused will appear for trial. When trial ends, bail is returned and if they don't return, bail is forfeited.
Prevents judges from ordering someone convicted of a crime to pay an excessive fine. Fines for serious crimes may be higher than those for less serious ones. If someone can't afford a fine, they can be imprisoned for longer than the maximum sentence to work off the fine.
Bans cruel and unusual punishment for crimes. Used to limit the death penalty.
All other rights not spelled out in the Constitution are retained by the people.
Prevents government from claiming that they only rights people have are those in the BOR.
Doesn't add any new rights; says that powers not delegated to the US, nor prohibited to the states are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.
AKA: powers not given to the federal government were retained by the states or the people.
Can be divided into 3 groups, ones that make structural changes, ones that extend the government's power, and ones that extend individual rights.
Structural changes to the constitution
Article 3, Section 1
gives the federal courts jurisdiction in cases arising between states, citizens of different states, or a state and the citizens of another state.
bans a state from being sued in federal court by citizens of another state or another nation.
Was added in response to SC's ruling in Chisholm v. GA (1793) which said that South Carolina citizens could not sue the state of GA in a federal court.
1804 - calls for electoral college to use separate ballots in voting for POTUS and VP.
People, not state legislatures - elect US senators directly. COngress tried to pass this several times, but in 1912, scandals involving charges of vote buying in state legislatures led to it passing.
1933 - sets new dates for when VP and POTUS are inaugurated on Jan. 20th of the following year and when Congress begins its term (Jan. 3rd of the next year).
1951 - limits POTUS term to 2 elected terms.
1967 - establishes a process for VP to take over the office of President if the president is disabled. Establishes the process for filling the VP if that office becomes vacant.
1992 - makes congressional pay raises effective during the term following their passage. Originally proposed as part of BOR in 178, but didn't have sufficient votes for ratification. Law in 1992.
Extension of Power
2 amendments gave the government more power, but one was repealed after 14 years.
1895 - SC reversed a previous decision and declared a federal income tax unconstitutional. This was the law until 1913 when the 16th gives Congress the power to levy individual income taxes.
18th - 1919 banned alcohol manufacture, sale, and transportation of it.
21st in 1933 repealed it, but banned the transport of alcohol into any state where its possession violated state law.
Extension of Individual Rights
Many constitutional amendments extend individual rights.
13th, 14th, and 15th are the CW amendments.
13th, 14th, 15th amendments
13th - 1865 outlawed slavery
14th - 1868 bans a state from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Citizens have the right to equal protection of the law in all states. Was intended to protect the legal rights of freed slaves and their descendants.
15th - 1870 bans the government from denying a person's right to vote on the basis of race.
1920 - women had the right to vote with the 19th amendment. They were already able to vote in some states before 1920.
(1961) - gave DC 3 presidential electors to represent them in the electoral college; don't have full representation in Congress and nonvoting delegates.
Some southern states created poll taxes which required people to pay a tax before they could vote, to keep AA and poor from voting. 24th banned poll taxes in federal elections.
(1971) - lowers voting age in federal and state elections to 18
Changes to our understanding of the Constitution - Practice and Customs
When a branch of government exercises its power in a new way and succeeds, it sets an example that influences future officials.
Ex: Constitution gives HOR power to impeach or formally accuse federal officials while it is up to the Senate to conduct impeachment trial.
Article II - Impeachment
an official can be removed from office if he or she is convicted of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
High crimes and misdemeanors: actions of the president have affected interpretation of the Constitution and the powers of the presidency and workings of teh executive branch. Modern presidents conduct foreign affairs by executie agreement -- agreement between heads of state -- instead of a treaty specified by the Constitution which must be ratified by the Senate unlike an executive agreement. Presidents today are also more aggressive in requestiong legislation from COngress which expanded their role in the government more than the Founders planned.
Federal courts interpret the meanings of words and phrases in the Constitution that are imprecise when making decisions.
Courts have the power to review federal laws or government actions to determine whether they violate the Constitution --- they decide what parts of the document mean.
Changes in membership of courts and in social and political conditions affect how the courts interpret it. In Plessy v Ferguson (1896) they ruled that separate but equal facilities didn't violate the Constitution.
Brown v Board reversed its position in 1954 saying separate educational facilities were unequal and thus unconstitutional.
Some of the text is written in broad language, leaving room for interpretation and adaptation, which helped it survive 200 years.
Judicial Review - Ex: Wisconsin vs. Yoder (1972)
SC ruled that 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion allows Amish families to keep their kids home after 8th grade despite a state law requiring school attendance at a later age.
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