Bill of Rights passes Congress

Bill of Rights passes Congress

The first Congress of the United States approves 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and sends them to the states for ratification. The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved for the states and the people.

Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification process that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to approve the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would immediately be adopted.

In December 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerned the population system of representation, while the second prohibited laws varying the payment of congressional members from taking effect until an election intervened. The first of these two amendments was never ratified, while the second was finally ratified more than 200 years later, in 1992.

READ MORE: Before Drafting the Bill of Rights, James Madison Argued the Constitution Was Fine Without It


United States Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often bitter 1787–88 debate over the ratification of the Constitution, and written to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add to the Constitution specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically granted to the U.S. Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those found in earlier documents, especially the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), as well as the Northwest Ordinance (1787), [1] the English Bill of Rights (1689), and the Magna Carta (1215). [2]

Due largely to the efforts of Representative James Madison, who studied the deficiencies of the Constitution pointed out by anti-federalists and then crafted a series of corrective proposals, Congress approved twelve articles of amendment on September 25, 1789, and submitted them to the states for ratification. Contrary to Madison's proposal that the proposed amendments be incorporated into the main body of the Constitution (at the relevant articles and sections of the document), they were proposed as supplemental additions (codicils) to it. [3] Articles Three through Twelve were ratified as additions to the Constitution on December 15, 1791, and became Amendments One through Ten of the Constitution. Article Two became part of the Constitution on May 5, 1992, as the Twenty-seventh Amendment. Article One is still pending before the states.

Although Madison's proposed amendments included a provision to extend the protection of some of the Bill of Rights to the states, the amendments that were finally submitted for ratification applied only to the federal government. The door for their application upon state governments was opened in the 1860s, following ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Since the early 20th century both federal and state courts have used the Fourteenth Amendment to apply portions of the Bill of Rights to state and local governments. The process is known as incorporation. [4]

There are several original engrossed copies of the Bill of Rights still in existence. One of these is on permanent public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


Congress Passes Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights

On Tuesday Congress unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which ensures that victims do not bear the financial cost of their own rape kits and that they will be appropriately informed of that kit’s results and legal status.

While the bill only applies to federal cases, advocates say it is an important step to ensure that victims are kept in the forefront of any rape investigation, and not just treated as another piece of evidence.

The legislation was crafted by Amanda Nguyen, a sexual assault survivor who learned that she would have to file an extension request with the state of Massachusetts every six months if she didn’t want her rape kit destroyed. An important part of the bill is that law enforcement will now be required to contact survivors 60 days before kits are scheduled to be discarded.

But this bill does not address a host of other issues surrounding rape kits, including a national backlog of an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits. After being violently attacked and then undergoing an invasive gynecological examination to collect evidence, the least the criminal justice system can do is take sexual assault and its victims seriously.


14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868)

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866, and ratified July 9, 1868, the 14th amendment extended liberties and rights granted by the Bill of Rights to former slaves.

Following the Civil War, Congress submitted to the states three amendments as part of its Reconstruction program to guarantee equal civil and legal rights to black citizens. The major provision of the 14th amendment was to grant citizenship to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States,” thereby granting citizenship to former slaves. Another equally important provision was the statement that “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.” The right to due process of law and equal protection of the law now applied to both the Federal and state governments. On June 16, 1866, the House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th amendment to the Constitution was submitted to the states. On July 28, 1868, the 14th amendment was declared, in a certificate of the Secretary of State, ratified by the necessary 28 of the 37 States, and became part of the supreme law of the land.

Congressman John A. Bingham of Ohio, the primary author of the first section of the 14th amendment, intended that the amendment also nationalize the Federal Bill of Rights by making it binding upon the states. Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan, introducing the amendment, specifically stated that the privileges and immunities clause would extend to the states “the personal rights guaranteed and secured by the first eight amendments.” Historians disagree on how widely Bingham's and Howard's views were shared at the time in the Congress, or across the country in general. No one in Congress explicitly contradicted their view of the Amendment, but only a few members said anything at all about its meaning on this issue. For many years, the Supreme Court ruled that the Amendment did not extend the Bill of Rights to the states.

Not only did the 14th amendment fail to extend the Bill of Rights to the states it also failed to protect the rights of black citizens. One legacy of Reconstruction was the determined struggle of black and white citizens to make the promise of the 14th amendment a reality. Citizens petitioned and initiated court cases, Congress enacted legislation, and the executive branch attempted to enforce measures that would guard all citizens’ rights. While these citizens did not succeed in empowering the 14th amendment during the Reconstruction, they effectively articulated arguments and offered dissenting opinions that would be the basis for change in the 20th century.

(Information excerpted from Teaching With Documents [Washington, DC: The National Archives and Records Administration and the National Council for the Social Studies, 1998] p. 40.)


Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States 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 United States 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 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


THE FIVE FAILED AMENDMENTS

In addition, there were six Constitutional amendments that were passed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress but were never ratified by three-fourths of the states, as required in Article Five of the Constitution. One is still being argued in courts.

Passed by Congress: Sept. 25, 1789

This amendment, proposed as one of 12 original “Bill of Rights” amendments, would have regulated the size of congressional districts to ensure apportionment of representatives. It never passed, although there was another failed “Bill of Rights” amendment that was finally ratified in 1992 – 202 years and 223 days after Congress sent it to the states.

Passed by Congress: March 4, 1794
Ratified by states: Feb. 7, 1795

What the amendment did: Made states immune from lawsuits from citizens of other states and from foreigners and set up the foundation for state sovereign immunity.

Passed by Congress: Dec. 9, 1803
Ratified by states: June 15, 1804

What the amendment did: Changed how elections worked: Previously, the vice president was the No. 2 vote-getter. After this, presidents and vice presidents were elected together on a “ticket.”

TITLES OF NOBILITY AMENDMENT

Passed by Congress: May 1, 1810

This amendment would require any U.S. citizen who accepts a title of nobility from another country to be stripped of his or her U.S. citizenship.

Passed by Congress: March 2, 1861

This amendment would make state’s “domestic institutions” – especially slavery – immune to abolition or other interference from Congress.

Passed by Congress: Jan. 31, 1865
Ratified by states: Dec. 6, 1865

What the amendment did: Abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.

Passed by Congress: June 13, 1866
Ratified by states: July 9, 1868

What the amendment did: Granted citizenship to former slaves and guaranteed a citizen’s “privileges or immunities,” due process of law and equal protection of laws.

Passed by Congress: Feb. 26, 1869
Ratified by states: Feb. 3, 1870

What the amendment did: Guaranteed to all men the right to vote, regardless of race, color or whether or not one had previously been a slave.

Passed by Congress: July 12, 1909
Ratified by states: Feb. 3, 1913

What the amendment did: Allows Congress to levy an income tax without having to apportion it among the states or basing it on the Census.

Passed by Congress: May 13, 1912
Ratified by states: April 8, 1913

What the amendment did: Ensures U.S. senators are elected by direct popular vote.

Passed by Congress: Dec. 18, 1917
Ratified by states: Jan. 16, 1919

What the amendment did: Prohibited the manufacture or sale of alcohol in the U.S. “Prohibition” would be repealed with the 21st Amendment in 1933.

Passed by Congress: June 4, 1919
Ratified by states: Aug. 18, 1920

What the amendment did: Guaranteed to women the right to vote.

Passed by Congress: June 2, 1924

This amendment would have permitted the federal government to limit, regulate or prohibit child labor.

Passed by Congress: March 2, 1932
Ratified by states: Jan. 23, 1933

What the amendment did: Changed the date on which national elected officials began their terms of office. Instead of March 4, Presidential inaugurations would take place on Jan. 20.

Passed by Congress: Feb. 20, 1933
Ratified by states: Dec. 5, 1933

What the amendment did: Repealed the 18th amendment that banned the manufacture or sale of alcohol.

Passed by Congress: March 24, 1947
Ratified by states: Feb. 27, 1951

What the amendment did: Established a two-term limit for president. A person who completed someone else’s presidential term of more than two years can be elected only once.

Passed by Congress: June 16, 1960
Ratified by states: March 29, 1961

What the amendment did: Guaranteed the District of Columbia electors in the Electoral College.

Passed by Congress: Sept. 14, 1962
Ratified by states: Jan. 23, 1964

What the amendment did: Guaranteed no one could be denied the right to vote based on non-payment of a poll tax or any other type of tax.

Passed by Congress: July 6, 1965
Ratified by states: Feb. 10, 1967

What the amendment did: Established an order of succession to the presidency, procedures for filling a vice presidential vacancy and responding to a presidential disability.

Passed by Congress: March 23, 1971
Ratified by states: July 1, 1971

What the amendment did: Lowered the voting age to 18 years old.

Passed by Congress: March 22, 1972

This amendment would have prohibited denial of any rights by federal or state governments on the basis of sex. Congress originally set a deadline of March 22, 1979 to pass this amendment and then extended that to June 30, 1982. It did not pass. After that, three more states passed the ERA, which would have made it law – if the ratification deadline hadn’t expired. This is still being argued in courts.

D.C. VOTING RIGHTS AMENDMENT

Passed by Congress: Aug. 22, 1978

This amendment would have given the District of Columbia full rights as a state, with members of Congress and other rights. Congress set a ratification deadline of Aug. 22, 1985 – which wasn’t met.

Passed by Congress: Sept. 25, 1789
Ratified by states: May 5, 1992

What the amendment did: Said that if Congress votes itself a pay increase, that increase won’t take effect until after the next election. This had been one of the original 12 amendments, back in 1789.


Contents

On September 11, 2019, a version of the bill—S. 178, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019—passed in the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent. [4] [6] [7]

On December 3, 2019, a stronger, amended version of the bill—the Uighur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response Act (or UIGHUR Act)—was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 407 to 1. [3] [11] [6] [12] The sole "no" vote was cast by Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky. [12]

On the afternoon of May 14, 2020, a new version of the bill—S. 3744, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020—passed in the United States Senate by unanimous consent. [13] The House approved the bill by a vote of 413–1 on May 27, 2020. [9] The following month, on June 17, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law. [10] [14] [15] [16]

The bill directs: (1) the Director of National Intelligence to report to Congress on security issues caused by the Chinese government's reported crackdown on Uyghurs in Xinjiang (2) the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report on efforts to protect Uyghurs and Chinese nationals in the United States (3) the U.S. Agency for Global Media to report on Chinese media related issues in Xinjiang and (4) the United States Department of State to report on the scope of the reported Chinese government crackdown on Uyghurs in Xinjiang. [2]

U.S. President Donald Trump has to submit a report to Congress within 180 days. The report shall designate Chinese officials and any other individuals who are responsible for carrying out: torture prolonged detention without charges and a trial abduction cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of Muslim minority groups and other flagrant denials of the "right to life, liberty, or the security" of people in Xinjiang. Persons identified in the report would then be subject to sanctions which include asset blocking, visa revocation, and ineligibility for entry into the United States. Imposing sanctions against the officials can be declined by the President if he determines and certifies to Congress that holding back on sanctions is in the national interest of the United States. [17] [18]

The bill would also call on President Trump to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act on Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, which would be the first time such sanctions would be imposed on a member of China's politburo. [19] [20] On July 9, 2020, the Trump administration imposed sanctions and visa restrictions against senior Chinese officials, including Quanguo, as well as Zhu Hailun, Wang Mingshan ( 王明山 ), and Huo Liujun ( 霍留军 ). With sanctions, they and their immediate relatives are barred from entering the US and will have US-based assets frozen. [21]

Support Edit

On the same day that President Trump signed the Act into law, former National Security Advisor John Bolton claimed that Trump had, on two occasions, told Chinese leader Xi Jinping to go forward with plans related to Uyghur internment. [17] [22]

Editorials in The New York Times and The Washington Post supported the passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act. [23] [24] Opinion pieces written in various publications also supported the passage of the Act. [25]

The CCP claim of deradicalization drew criticism in an article by the Deccan Chronicle, [26] while an article written by Srikanth Kondapalli made criticisms of the PRC's grand strategy for Xinjiang. [27] Analysts cited in an article by Reuters said that Mainland China's response to passage of the Uyghur bill could be stronger than its reaction to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, [19] while the BBC's China correspondent said that if the bill became law, then it would mark the most significant international attempt to pressure mainland China over its mass detention of the Uyghurs. [28]

Uyghur community Edit

On December 3, 2019, a World Uyghur Congress spokesman said that the House bill is important in opposing "China's continued push of extreme persecution," and that the organization looks forward to President Trump signing the bill. [19] [28] Various Uyghur activists, think tank analysts, and political representatives called on various governments to sanction Mainland Chinese officials for their perceived involvement in the Xinjiang conflict. [29]

Uyghur-American lawyer Nury Turkel—who is a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the co-founder of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, and a former President of the Uyghur American Association—thanked President Trump for signing the Act and further wrote that, "It's a great day for America and the Uighur people." [30] Turkel would also go on to say that the American government must use the new bill to impose sanctions on Chinese officials for religious persecution. He also urged Congress to pass a second bill, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to presume that any goods produced in Xinjiang are the product of forced labor. [31] [32]

Memetrusul Hesen, a Uyghur and former resident of Kargilik County (Yecheng) in Xinjiang's Kashgar Prefecture, who is now a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, left China with his aged mother in 2016. After a brief period of contact via phone in 2016, he had no longer been able to speak with his family or any of the members of his extended family up to mid-2020, despite having filed numerous requests for information at the Chinese embassy. Hesen said that his mother, Halimihan Ahun, 92, sits and cries everyday. In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Hesen expressed thanks to the United States for thinking about Uyghur suffering, and expressed hope the bill's passage could be a driving force for change. [33]

Chinese government and allies Edit

The Chinese government have called the bill a malicious attack on China and demanded that the United States prevent it from becoming law, warning that it would act to defend its interests as necessary. [19] On December 4, 2019, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the bill "wantonly smeared China's counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts." [3] Four days later, Ezizi Ali ( 艾则孜·艾力 )—County Magistrate of Niya County and Vice Secretary of the Niya County County Communist Party Committee—and Parhat Rouzi ( 帕尔哈提·肉孜 )—Vice Secretary and Commissioner of the Kashgar Prefecture Communist Party Committee—penned criticisms of the Act. [34] [35]


“No Compromise to Offer on this Subject”: The Education Clause

The sticking point on the final version of the 1875 civil rights bill became the section providing federal funding for and the desegregation of public education in the South. Traditionally, states and local municipalities controlled public schools. But throughout the former Confederacy, local prejudice led to uneven educational opportunities where schools were deeply segregated. Both Southern Democrats and moderate Republicans feared that angry white parents would pull their children out of mixed-race schools, effectively ending public education in the South. “The great evil this bill has in store for the black man is found in the destruction of the common schools of the South,” declared Roger Mills, a white Democrat from East Texas. “When the common schools are broken up in all the Southern States . . . what is to become of the children of the colored people? Are they to grow up on ignorance and vice?” 132 Democrat Milton Durham of Kentucky argued that his white constituents paid the bulk of the taxes and that many took advantage of public schools. “Should this bill pass,” Durham warned, “and the children of freedmen demand admission into these schools, I believe the system in Kentucky will be so injured as to become worthless.” 133 Moderate Republicans were wary of the education clause as well. Though Barbour Lewis of Tennessee supported the civil rights bill, noting that “the colored people deserve this measure,” he argued that integrated schools were unacceptable “because people of their own choice . . . simply as a matter of taste, have maintained separate schools.” 134

/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_1_kellogg-Stephen-of-CT-LC-DIG-cwpbh-00436.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress To aid the passage of the 1875 Civil Rights Bill, three-term Representative Stephen Kellogg of Connecticut stripped the bill of all references to education.

Black Members vigorously defended the education clause, preferring almost unanimously the Senate version of the bill. 136 John Lynch contended that increased federal funding for education was the most harmless provision of the bill: “All share its benefits alike,” he said. 137 Richard Cain sharply admonished his southern colleagues: “Examine the laws of the South, and you will find that it was a penal offense for anyone to educate the colored people there. . . . You robbed us for two hundred years. During all that time we toiled for you. We have raised your cotton, your rice, your corn. . . . And yet you upbraid us for being ignorant call us a horde of barbarians!” 138 Alonzo Ransier had great faith that access to equal educational rights and opportunities would allow talented black men to earn good standing in their communities and would in turn curb discrimination. “Let the doors of the public school house be thrown open to us alike,” he declared, “if you mean to give these people equal rights at all, or to protect them in the exercise of the rights and privileges attaching to all freemen and citizens of our country.” 139

By the time the civil rights bill came to a vote, the measure had been gravely wounded. The bill’s last days were filled with desperate pleas from its supporters. “Spare us our liberties give us peace give us a chance to live . . . place no obstruction in our way give us an equal chance,” Richard Cain pleaded. “We ask no more of the American people.” 140 James Rapier despaired, “I have no compromise to offer on this subject. . . . After all, this question resolves itself into this: either I am a man or I am not a man.” 141

Minutes before the final measure came to a vote in the House, Members passed Kellogg’s amendment eliminating all references to public education, 128 to 48. A motion replacing the House version with the Senate bill failed soon afterward, 148 to 114. The battered civil rights bill finally passed 162 to 99. The measure provided no mechanism to regulate public schools but stipulated equal access to public transportation and accommodations regardless of race. It also prohibited the exclusion of African Americans from jury service. Black Members received the final version of the bill with mixed reactions. Despite its diluted form Richard Cain, John Lynch, Joseph Rainey, and James Rapier voted in its favor. But Alonzo Ransier and Josiah Walls were so disappointed by the elimination of the education clause, they declined to vote. 142 The legislation passed the Senate on February 27. On March 1, President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law. 143 The fact that Republicans, who within days would be relegated to minority status, managed to steer such a bill through the chamber at the conclusion of a lame duck session represented a considerable legislative victory. But in their desperation to pass the measure, Republicans had left the Civil Rights Act of 1875 in such a weakened state that it did little to impede the creation of an insidious system of segregation in the South. Moreover, the limited protection it did afford would soon be stripped by the courts.


The First Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Two hundred and thirty years ago on September 25, 1789, Congress passed the very first proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Ten of these eventually became the Bill of Rights.

During the period of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, one of the biggest criticisms of the document was that it lacked a bill of rights. Some states included proposed amendments as part of their state’s ratifications, and the primary reason North Carolina didn’t initially ratify the Constitution was because it lacked protections for individual liberties and freedoms.

The lack of a Bill of Rights became an issue during Virginia’s ratification convention and then again during the election of members to the House of Representatives. James Madison was seeking election to the House, and to satisfy the calls for a Bill of Rights, Madison reluctantly agreed to support amendments as a representative from Virginia.

On June 8, 1789, during the First Federal Congress, Madison proposed several amendments to be interwoven into the text of the Constitution. He took them mostly from the more than 200 amendments proposed by the states during their ratification conventions.

In August the House debated, reworded, and changed the amendments. One important event occurred when Roger Sherman of Connecticut successfully proposed a resolution to make them a separate list and move them to the end of the Constitution rather than inserting them directly into the text.

On August 24 the House passed 17 proposed amendments, and then the Senate took up the matter, making several more changes of its own.

The House and the Senate then reconciled their differences in a conference committee. The House approved the amendments on September 24, and the Senate agreed on September 25, 1789—two-thirds of Congress had passed a final version with 12 proposed amendments.

A few days later, Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg and Vice President John Adams signed the enrolled joint resolution proposing the first amendments to the new Constitution—the document that later became known as the Bill of Rights (the one on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC).

Clerks also created 13 additional copies, which President George Washington sent to the 11 states and to Rhode Island and North Carolina—which had not yet adopted the Constitution. Three-fourths of the states needed to ratify the amendments to make them part of the Constitution.

Then began the slow ratification process, with states taking up each amendment individually over the next two years. New Jersey was the first state to act, passing amendments one and three through 12 on November 20, 1789, and then Maryland ratified all of the amendments on December 19, 1789.

Just a month after joining the union, North Carolina ratified all the amendments on December 22, 1789.

South Carolina then ratified all the amendments on January 19, 1790, New Hampshire ratified one and three through 12 on January 25, 1790, Delaware ratified two through 12 on January 28, 1790, New York ratified one and three through 12 on February 24, 1790, and on March 10, 1790, Pennsylvania ratified three through 12 (then revisited amendment one on September 21, 1791, and ratified that too).

On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island finally adopted the U.S. Constitution and a week later ratified amendments one and three through 12.

Then there was a huge gap in action. On March 4, 1791, Vermont became the 14th state but waited until November 3, 1791, to ratify all the proposed amendments. That day Virginia ratified amendment one, then on December 15, 1791, Virginia ratified two through 12.

With Virginia’s actions on December 15, 11 states had ratified amendments three through 12 to reach the three-fourths mark needed to make them law. The first 10 amendments had just been added to the Constitution.

What about the other two proposed amendments? The original first (proposed) amendment outlined representation in the House of Representatives—it allowed for one representative for every 50,000 people. The amendment came within one state of becoming adopted, but has not since been ratified by enough states to become part of the Constitution.

The original second amendment dealt with salaries of members of Congress—it said that Congress can’t raise their own pay without an intervening Congress. Six states initially approved it. Over time, however, states continued to ratify it, including Kentucky in 1792, Ohio in 1873, and Wyoming in 1978.

Then in the early 1980s, Gregory Watson, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote a paper on the proposed amendment, arguing that it was still alive and began lobbying state legislatures to pass it. In 1983 Maine became the first state to ratify the amendment as a result of Watson’s efforts.

During the next several years, more states followed Maine’s lead until Michigan’s ratification on May 7, 1992. Michigan provided what was thought to be the 38th state ratification required—three-fourths of the states—to make it part of the Constitution (at that time, Kentucky’s 1792 ratification was unknown and therefore not counted).

The amendment went to the Archivist of the United States, who, since 1985, has been responsible for certifying constitutional amendments. On May 18, 1992, in a small ceremony in his office in the National Archives Building, Don Wilson became the first and only Archivist to certify a constitutional amendment. Effective May 7, 1992, the 27th Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution.

So, when you visit the Bill of Rights in the Rotunda at the National Archives, you will see 12 amendments—the first 10 amendments that became the Bill of Rights (the original third through 12th amendments) and the original second (proposed) amendment which is now the 27th Amendment!

Want to learn more about the Bill of Rights and the National Archives? Listen to an episode of the podcast, “Ben Franklin’s World,” where they go into the National Archives to investigate the Constitution and Bill of Rights.


The House on Wednesday passed the For the People Act, a sweeping bill that seeks to change campaign finance, voting and ethics laws.

The bill would expand access to the ballot box by creating automatic voter registration across the country, restoring the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated, expanding early voting and modernizing America's voting systems.

The House measure passed 220-210, with one Democrat joining all Republicans in voting against it.

The bill would also strengthen oversight of political lobbying and campaign finance by preventing members of Congress from serving on corporate boards and requiring presidents to release their tax returns.

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., first introduced the legislation, also known as H.R. 1, in 2019, when it passed the House but it stalled in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans at the time. He reintroduced the act in January.

"The 2020 election underscored the need for comprehensive, structural democracy reform. Americans across the country were forced to overcome rampant voter suppression, gerrymandering and a torrent of special-interest dark money just to exercise their vote and their voice in our democracy," Sarbanes said in a statement.

Former President Donald Trump promised to release his financial records in full, but he ultimately refused to release his tax returns while he was president and as a candidate. Since his election defeat, Republican state legislators have proposed tighter voting restrictions.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

The White House Office of Management and Budget released a statement Monday in support of the bill, which would also commit to restore the Voting Rights Act, combat voter purging and reform redistricting.

President Joe Biden said in a statement Thursday that he would work with Congress to refine and advance the bill and applauded its passage following the events leading up to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and state-level efforts to pass restrictive voting laws.

"The right to vote is sacred and fundamental — it is the right from which all of our other rights as Americans spring," Biden said in touting the bill's provisions. "This landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect that right, to safeguard the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen our democracy."

However, the filibuster may stand in the way of the bill's passage in the Senate.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked Monday whether Biden supports abolishing the filibuster to pass the bill.

"The president is committed to protecting the fundamental right to vote and making it easier for all eligible Americans to vote," she said. "We're not going to get ahead of the process. The president's view on the filibuster is well known. He has not changed that stance."

Dartunorro Clark covers politics, including the Covid-19 recovery, for NBC News.


Watch the video: Inhofes Pilots Bill of Rights Passes Senate