The Failed Amendments
Throughout the history of the Constitution, 27 changes have been made
through the Amendment process. Amendments are not easy to pass, and several
amendments have been proposed over time, but which failed to pass the second
hurdle - acceptance by the states. This page lists the amendments to the
Constitution which have not yet passed. Some, because of the language of the
bill that passed the Congress, have no expiration date and are still pending
ratification. Others have built-in expiration dates. The text details which of
the amendments are expired.
The following pages may also be of interest: The
Amendment Process, Proposed Amendments.
Emory University Law School has a similar
The Failed Amendments
Article 1 of the original Bill of Rights
This amendment, proposed in 1789, dealt with the number of
persons represented by each member of the House, and the number of members of
the House. It essentially said that once the House hit 100 members, it should
not go below 100, and once it reached 200, it should not go below 200. Since
there are over 400 members today, this amendment would be de facto moot today.
It is, however, still outstanding. Congressional research shows that the
amendment was ratified by ten states, the last being in 1791.
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.
The Anti-Title Amendment
This amendment, submitted to the States in the 11th Congress (in
1810), said that any citizen who accepted or received any
title of nobility from a foreign power, or who accepted without the consent of
Congress any gift from a foreign power, by would no longer be a citizen There
debate about whether this amendment was actually ratified or not, mostly by
those who put forth the fanciful notion that if it had been, most (if not all)
legislators who are lawyers, and who use the title "Esquire" would no longer be
citizens, and hence, no longer be able to serve in Congress. This amendment is
still outstanding. (Information refuting claims of ratification can be found here. A refutation of
this refutation can be found here.)
Congressional research shows that the amendment was ratified by twelve states,
the last being in 1812.
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
The Slavery Amendment
In 1861, an amendment prohibiting the Congress from making any
law interfering with the domestic institutions of any State (slavery being
specifically mentioned) was proposed and sent to the states. This amendment is
still outstanding. Congressional research shows that the amendment was ratified
by two states, the last being in 1862. This amendment is also known as the
Corwin Amendment, as it was proposed by Ohio Representative Thomas Corwin.
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.
The Child Labor Amendment
In 1926, an amendment was proposed which granted Congress the
power to regulate the labor of children under the age of 18. This amendment is
still outstanding, having been ratified by 28 states. Ratification by 38
states is required to add an amendment. Congressional research shows that the
amendment was ratified by 28 states, the last being in 1937.
Section 1. The Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and
prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen 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
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
The ERA's first section states "Equality of rights under the law shall not be
denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." It
was intended to place into law the equality of men and women. It was sent to
the states in March, 1972. The original seven year deadline
was extended to ten years. It expired unratified in 1982.
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
The Washington DC Voting Rights Amendment
Granted the citizens of Washington DC the same full representation in Congress
as any state, and repealed the 23rd Amendment granting the District votes in
the Electoral College (since it would have been moot). Proposed in
1978, it expired unratified in 1985.
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.
Section 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.
Section 3. The twenty-third article of amendment to the Constitution of
the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 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