Well this is a fascinating list of amendments that were proposed but never ratified. pic.twitter.com/OLwFzHMfTR
— radical pragmatist (@radicalpragmat1) October 19, 2021
Text on the image read:
The following is a very limited list of some of the proposed amendments that never left the halls of Congress:
• 1876: An attempt to abolish the United States Senate
• 1876: The forbidding of religious leaders from occupying a governmental office or receiving federal funding
• 1878: An Executive Council of Three should replace the office of President
• 1893: Renaming this nation the “United States of the Earth”
• 1893: Abolishing the United States Army and Navy
• 1894: Acknowledging that the Constitution recognize God and Jesus Christ as the supreme authorities in human affairs.
• 1912: Making marriage between races illegal
• 1914: Finding divorce to be illegal
• 1916: All acts of war should be put to a national vote. Anyone voting yes has to register as a volunteer for service in the United States Army
• 1933: An attempt to limit the personal wealth to $1 million
• 1938: The forbidding of drunkenness in the United States and all of its territories
• 1947: The income tax maximum for an individual should not exceed 25%
• 1948: The right of citizens to segregate themselves from others
• 1971: American citizens should have the alienable right to an environment free of pollution.
A reverse image search returned no other iterations of the image older than October 20 2021, one day after it was shared to Twitter. However, text identical to that in the screenshot appeared on page 48 of an October 27 2011 document [PDF] shared to a school district’s website, and in a Gizmodo item from 2007.
On October 21 2021, the Twitter user who shared the information answered a question about the source of the list of purported failed amendments. They indicated it was the 1999 book The U.S. Constitution and Fascinating Facts About It:
— radical pragmatist (@radicalpragmat1) October 21, 2021
One of the enduring features of our Constitution is its flexibility. At the time of its ratification, the population of the United States was around 4 million and today that population exceeds 327 million. Since its adoption the Constitution has only changed 27 times! Actually, since 1791 (with the inclusion of the Bill of Rights) it has only changed 16 times. That is an amazing fact considering the changes in technology, infrastructure, population, etc. in this country in more than 200 years.
The framers of the Constitution realized that no document could cover all of the changes that would take place to ensure its longevity. In order for an amendment to be passed, a number of steps must be taken as outlined in Article V. The article provides for two methods for the proposal and two methods for the ratification of an amendment. An amendment may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of the House of Representatives and the Senate or a national convention called by Congress at the request of 2/3 of the state legislatures. The latter procedure has never been used. The amendment may then be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures (38 states) or special conventions called in 3/4 of the states. The 21st amendment was the only one to be adopted in this way. However, it is the power of Congress to decide which method of ratification will be used.
The time limit for the ratification process of seven years was first applied to the Eighteenth Amendment, and the decision concerning a “reasonable” time period for ratification is determined by Congress according to the Supreme Court case Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939). There have been close to 10,000 amendments proposed in Congress since 1789, and only a fraction of a percentage of those receive enough support to actually go through the constitutional ratification process. The success rate of an amendment to become part of the Constitution is less than 1%.
The following is a very limited list of some of those proposed amendments that never left the halls of Congress….
Complete and partial versions of the “list of failed amendments” have long circulated, nearly all tracing back to that source (The U.S. Constitution: And Fascinating Facts About It). A Wikipedia entry, “List of proposed amendments to the United States Constitution,” referenced some of the list items, but also cited that same book, or else material derived from it.
Moreover, the entry’s introduction alluded to a broader needle-in-a-haystack issue in verifying the items on the list:
Hundreds of proposed amendments to the United States Constitution are introduced during each session of the United States Congress. From 1789 through January 3, 2019, approximately 11,770 measures have been proposed to amend the United States Constitution. Collectively, members of the House and Senate typically propose around 200 amendments during each two-year term of Congress.
A Senate.gov page, “Measures Proposed to Amend the Constitution,” further indicated that the exact number of proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States remains unquantifiable:
There are 27 amendments to the Constitution. Approximately 11,848 measures have been proposed to amend the Constitution from 1789 through January 3, 2019.
The number of proposed amendments to the Constitution is an approximation for several reasons. Inadequate indexing in the early years of the Congress, and separate counting of amendments in the nature of a substitute, may obscure the total. It is also common for a number of identical resolutions to be offered on issues that have widespread public and congressional support. Finally, congressional rules limiting the number of cosponsors permitted for each proposed amendment may be a factor in the number of resolutions introduced.
An October 19 2021 tweet purportedly showing “a very limited list of some of the proposed amendments that never left the halls of Congress” spread virally across social media platforms. It appeared that the original photograph on Twitter was captured by a then-current reader of the book The U.S. Constitution: And Fascinating Facts About It, and that the list had been reproduced partially or completely on the internet from 1999 onward. Due to the enduring popularity and specific curation of the list (and the extremely large volume of failed proposed amendments, a count described as nearing 12,000 by Senate.gov), doing a line-by-line validation or fact-check of the individual items listed was virtually impossible.