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Why Certain Amendments Fail To Be Ratified

3301 words - 14 pages

Why Certain Amendments Fail To Be Ratified
Throughout history numerous amendments have failed to be incorporated into the Constitution due to popular consensus; foreseen difficulties in enforcement; or a lack of legislative validity for the nation as a whole. However, all amendments are challenged by the federal and state legislative branches of government before they are ratified. This concerted challenge ensures that such laws reflect the needs of all Americans. Many times amendments have been seen as a source of rights that serve either disenfranchised citizens such as the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments for African-Americans; or special interest groups such as the 18th amendment, later ...view middle of the document...

Others expire and are many times never reconsidered for further appeal toward ratification. Public opinion registered in states’ power has been a curious dilemma in the history of American law. It is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in the sense that popular consensus, at the state level, does not allow the federal government to dictate absolute control over its citizens; on the other hand, it allows states to deny certain or all citizens rights promoted by the federal government, but not recognized by the state. In 1861 The Pro-Slavery Amendment also known as the Corwin Amendment (named after Ohio Rep. Thomas Corwin) was proposed. It was an amendment that promoted the concept of prohibiting Congress from establishing any law that interfered with the domestic institutions of any state (i.e. slavery). The amendment was ratified by two states. The amendment had no expiration date and theoretically remains for ratification, thus a zombie amendment (never ratified, never expires). However, due to the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments and the Civil Rights act of 1964 the Corwin Amendment has been virtually nullified (Mount, The Failed Amendments).
In many ways, due to special interests groups of the time, such as religious and non-religious abolitionists and “free-soil” farmers, the Corwin Amendment was not popular and was a clear response to the Compromise of 1850. Both abolitionists and Free Soil farmers of the northern states and territories wanted new states admitted into the Union in accordance with the uneasy balance of free and slave states (Root, 2010). Furthermore, that lack of support for the ratification of the Corwin Amendment, assisted free-soil farmers who sought economic aims to ensure an equal opportunity to cultivate land with a feasible, commercial endeavor (McElroy, 2001). Free-soil farmers were at a constant disadvantage to slave-owning farmers due to paying wages, taxes, and smaller workforces who had the freedom to resign (American Constitution Society, 2006).

Later, Reconstruction was undermined and virtually disbanded by the Hayes Administration in 1877. The response to the emancipation of American slaves, their citizenship, and voting rights were challenged by harsh segregation under Jim Crow, with de jure segregation in the South and de facto segregation in the North. Neither form of segregation was an Amendment; they were simply supported by state laws. However, desegregation acts (i.e. Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights act of 1964) and voting acts (i.e. the Voting Rights Act of 1965) further shaped the multicultural perspective that dictates present-day, American civil rights (Wormser, Reconstruction; The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; American Constitution Society, 2006).
The Equal Rights Amendment: Foreseen Difficulties in Enforcement
Many times amendments fail to be fully ratified on the basis of foreseen difficulties in enforcing or...

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