Ratification

Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent that lacked the authority to bind the principal legally. Ratification defines the international act in which a state indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty if the parties intended to show their consent by such an act. In the case of bilateral treaties, ratification is usually accomplished by exchanging the requisite instruments, and in the case of multilateral treaties, the usual procedure is for the depositary to collect the ratifications of all states, keeping all parties informed of the situation.

The institution of ratification grants states the necessary time-frame to seek the required approval for the treaty on the domestic level and to enact the necessary legislation to give domestic effect to that treaty.[1] The term applies to private contract law, international treaties, and constitutions in federal states such as the United States and Canada. The term is also used in parliamentary procedure in deliberative assemblies.[2]

Private law

In contract law, the need for ratification can arise in two ways: if the agent attempts to bind the principal despite lacking the authority to do so; and if the principal authorizes the agent to make an agreement, but reserves the right to approve it. An example of the former situation is an employee not normally responsible for procuring supplies contracting to do so on the employer's behalf. The employer's choice on discovering the contract is to ratify it or to repudiate it.

The latter situation is common in trade union collective bargaining agreements. The union authorizes one or more people to negotiate and sign an agreement with management. A collective bargaining agreement can not become legally binding until the union members ratify the agreement. If they do not approve it, the agreement is void, and negotiations resume.

Ratification of an international treaty

The ratification of international treaties is always accomplished by filing instruments of ratification as provided for in the treaty.[3] In most democracies, the legislature authorizes the government to ratify treaties through standard legislative procedures by passing a bill.

India

The President makes a treaty in exercise of his executive power, on the aid and the advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister, and no court of law in India may question its validity. However, no agreement or treaty entered into by the president is enforceable by the courts which is incompatible with Indian constitution/ national law, as India follows dualist theory for the implementation of international laws.

If the Parliament wishes to codify the agreement entered into by the executive thereby making it enforceable by the courts of India, it may do so under Article 253 of the constitution.

United Kingdom

Treaty ratification was a Royal Prerogative, exercised by Her Majesty on the advice of her Government. By a convention called the Ponsonby Rule, treaties were usually placed before parliament for 21 days before ratification. It was put onto a statutory footing by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

United States

Treaty power is a co-ordinated effort between the Executive branch and the Senate. The President may form and negotiate, but the treaty must be advised and consented to by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Only after the Senate approves the treaty can the President ratify it. Once it is ratified, it becomes binding on all the states under the Supremacy Clause. While the House of Representatives does not vote on it at all, the requirement for the Senate's advice and consent to ratification makes it considerably more difficult to rally enough political support for international treaties. Also, if implementation of the treaty requires the expenditure of funds, the House of Representatives may be able to block or at least impede such implementation by refusing to vote for the appropriation of the necessary funds.

The President usually submits a treaty to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) along with an accompanying resolution of ratification or accession. If the treaty and resolution receive favorable committee consideration (a committee vote in favor of ratification or accession), the treaty is then forwarded to the floor of the full Senate for such a vote. The treaty or legislation does not apply until it has been ratified. A multilateral agreement may provide that it will take effect upon its ratification by less than all of the signatories.[4] Even though such a treaty takes effect, it does not apply to signatories that have not ratified it. Accession has the same legal effect as ratification, for treaties already negotiated and signed by other states.[5] An example of a treaty to which the Senate did not advise and consent to ratification is the Treaty of Versailles, which failed to garner support because of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

The US can also enter into international agreements by way of executive agreements. They are not made under the Treaty Clause and do not require ratification of two thirds of the Senate. Congressional-executive agreements are passed by a majority of both houses of Congress as a regular law. If the agreement is completely within the President's constitutional powers, it can be made by the President alone without Congressional approval, but it will have the force of an executive order and can be unilaterally revoked by a future President. All types of agreements are treated internationally as "treaties". See Foreign policy of the United States#Law.

Australia

In Australia, power to enter into treaties is an executive power within Section 51 of the Australian Constitution so the Australian Government may enter into a binding treaty without seeking parliamentary approval. However, implementation of treaties requires legislation by the Australian parliament, following Section 51(xxix) of the Australian Constitution, signed by the Governor-General of Australia.

Japan

In Japan, in principle both houses of the parliament (the National Diet) must approve the treaty for ratification. If the House of Councilors rejects a treaty approved by the House of Representatives, and a joint committee of both houses cannot come to agreement on amendments to the original text of the treaty, or the House of Councilors fails to decide on a treaty for more than thirty days, the House of Representatives the will be regarded as the vote of the National Diet approving the ratification. The approved treaty will then be promulgated into law by the act of the Emperor.

Ratification of a constitution

Federations usually require the support of both the federal government and some given percentage of the constituent governments for amendments to the federal constitution to take effect.

Ratification in the Constitution of India

Not all constitutional amendments in India require ratification by the states. Only constitutional amendments that seek to make any change in any of the provisions mentioned in the proviso to Article 368 of the Constitution of India, must be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the States. These provisions relate to certain matters concerning the federal structure or of common interest to both the Union and the States viz., the election of the President (articles 54 and 55); the extent of the executive power of the Union and the States (Articles 73 and 162); the High Courts for Union territories (Article 241); The Union Judiciary and the High Courts in the States (Chapter IV of Part V and Chapter V of Part VI); the distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States (Chapter I of Part XI and Seventh Schedule); the representation of States in Parliament; and the provision for amendment of the Constitution laid down in Article 368. Ratification is done by a resolution passed by the State Legislatures. There is no specific time limit for the ratification of an amending Bill by the State Legislatures. However, the resolutions ratifying the proposed amendment must be passed before the amending Bill is presented to the President for his assent.[6]

However, when the treaty terms are interfering with the powers exclusively applicable to states (State List), prior ratification of all applicable states are to be obtained per Article 252 of the Indian constitution before the ratification by the Parliament.

Ratification in the United States Constitution

Article Seven of the constitution of the United States describes the process by which the entire document was to become effective. It required that conventions of nine of the thirteen original States ratify the constitution. If fewer than thirteen states ratified the document, it would become effective only among the states ratifying it.[7] New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify, doing so on June 21, 1788, but, as a practical matter, it was decided to delay implementation of the new government until New York and Virginia could be persuaded to ratify. Congress intended that New York City should be the first capital, and that George Washington, of Mount Vernon, Virginia, should be the first President, and both of those things would have been somewhat awkward if either New York or Virginia were not part of the new government. Ratification by those states was secured - Virginia on June 25 and New York on July 26 - and the government under the Constitution began on March 4, 1789.

For subsequent amendments, Article Five describes the process of a potential amendment's adoption. Proposals to adopt an amendment may be called either by a two-thirds vote by both houses of Congress or by a national convention as a result of resolutions adopted by two-thirds (presently at least 34 out of 50) of the states' legislatures. For an amendment to be adopted, three-quarters of the states (presently at least 38 out of 50) must ratify the amendment either by a vote of approval in each state's legislature or by state ratifying conventions – Congress may specify which method must be used to ratify the amendment. Congress may also set a deadline by which the threshold for adoption must be met.

Use in parliamentary procedure

A deliberative assembly, using parliamentary procedure, could ratify action that otherwise was not validly taken. For example, action taken where there was no quorum at the meeting is not valid until it is later ratified at a meeting where a quorum is present.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ "United Nations Treaty Collection". un.org.
  2. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th ed., p. 124-125
  3. ^ "Glossary of terms relating to Treaty actions". United Nations.
  4. ^ An example for such a treaty can be seen in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which enters into force as soon as it has been ratified by at least 30 states (Article 17).
  5. ^ "United Nations - Office of Legal Affairs". untreaty.un.org.
  6. ^ "Constitution Amendment: Nature and Scope of the Amending Process" (PDF). Lok Sabha Secretariat. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  7. ^ U.S. Const. art. VII.
  8. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th ed., p. 124
12th New York State Legislature

The 12th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from December 11, 1788, to March 3, 1789, during the twelfth year of George Clinton's governorship, in Albany.

Article Five of the United States Constitution

Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process whereby the Constitution, the nation's frame of government, may be altered. Under Article V, the process to alter the Constitution consists of proposing an amendment or amendments, and subsequent ratification.

Amendments may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a convention of states called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures. To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either—as determined by Congress—the legislatures of three-quarters of the states or state ratifying conventions in three-quarters of the states. The vote of each state (to either ratify or reject a proposed amendment) carries equal weight, regardless of a state's population or length of time in the Union. Article V is silent regarding deadlines for the ratification of proposed amendments, but most amendments proposed since 1917 have included a deadline for ratification. Legal scholars generally agree that the amending process of Article V can itself be amended by the procedures laid out in Article V, but there is some disagreement over whether Article V is the exclusive means of amending the Constitution.

In addition to defining the procedures for altering the Constitution, Article V also shields three clauses in Article I from ordinary amendment by attaching stipulations. Regarding two of the clauses—one concerning importation of slaves and the other apportionment of direct taxes—the prohibition on amendment was absolute but of limited duration, expiring in 1808; the third was without an expiration date but less absolute: "no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate." Scholars disagree as to whether this shielded clause can itself be amended by the procedures laid out in Article V.

Article Seven of the United States Constitution

Article Seven of the United States Constitution sets the number of state ratifications necessary in order for the Constitution to take effect and prescribes the method through which the states may ratify it. Under the terms of Article VII, constitutional ratification conventions were held in each of the thirteen states, with the ratification of nine states required for the Constitution to take effect. Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution, doing so on December 7, 1787. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, ensuring that the Constitution would take effect. Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the Constitution under Article VII, doing so on May 29, 1790.

Equal Rights Amendment

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. The amendment was introduced in Congress for the first time in 1921 and has prompted conversations about the meaning of legal equality for women and men ever since.

In the early history of the Equal Rights Amendment, middle-class women were largely supportive, while those speaking for the working class were often opposed, pointing out that employed women needed special protections regarding working conditions and employment hours. With the rise of the women's movement in the United States during the 1960s, the ERA garnered increasing support, and, after being reintroduced by U.S. Representative Martha Griffiths (D-Michigan), in 1971, it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 12 of that year and on March 22, 1972, it was approved by the U.S. Senate, thus submitting the ERA to the state legislatures for ratification, as provided for in Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

Congress had originally set a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979, for the state legislatures to consider the ERA. Through 1977, the amendment received 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications. With wide, bipartisan support (including that of both major political parties, both houses of Congress, and Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter) the ERA seemed destined for ratification until Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition. These women argued that the ERA would disadvantage housewives, cause women to be drafted into the military and to lose protections such as alimony, and eliminate the tendency for mothers to obtain custody over their children in divorce cases. Labor feminists also opposed the ERA on the basis that it would eliminate protections for women in labor law.

Five state legislatures (Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota) voted to revoke their ERA ratifications. Four claim to have rescinded their ratifications before the original March 22, 1979 ratification deadline, while the South Dakota legislature did so by voting to sunset its ratification as of that original deadline. However, it remains a legal question as to whether a state can revoke its ratification of a federal constitutional amendment.

In 1978, Congress passed (by simple majorities in each house), and President Carter signed, a joint resolution with the intent of extending the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982. Because no additional state legislatures ratified the ERA between March 22, 1979 and June 30, 1982, the validity of that disputed extension was rendered academic.On March 22, 2017, the 45th anniversary of Congress's submission of the ERA to the nation's state lawmakers, the Nevada Legislature became the first to ratify the ERA after the expiration of both deadlines with its adoption of Senate Joint Resolution No. 2 (designated as "POM-15" by the U.S. Senate and published verbatim in the Congressional Record of April 5, 2017, at pages S2361 and S2362).The Illinois General Assembly then ratified the ERA on May 30, 2018 with its adoption of Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment No. 4 (designated as "POM-299" by the U.S. Senate and likewise published verbatim in the Congressional Record of September 12, 2018, at page S6141).

Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". It was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments.

In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress repeatedly debated the rights of the millions of former black slaves. By 1869, amendments had been passed to abolish slavery and provide citizenship and equal protection under the laws, but the election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency in 1868 convinced a majority of Republicans that protecting the franchise of black male voters was important for the party's future. On February 26, 1869, after rejecting more sweeping versions of a suffrage amendment, Congress proposed a compromise amendment banning franchise restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude. After surviving a difficult ratification fight, the amendment was certified as duly ratified and part of the Constitution on March 30, 1870.

United States Supreme Court decisions in the late nineteenth century interpreted the amendment narrowly. From 1890 to 1910, southern states adopted new state constitutions and enacted laws that raised barriers to voter registration. This resulted in most black voters and many poor white ones being disenfranchised by poll taxes and discriminatory literacy tests, among other barriers to voting, from which white male voters were exempted by grandfather clauses. A system of white primaries and violent intimidation by white groups also suppressed black participation.

In the twentieth century, the Court began to interpret the amendment more broadly, striking down grandfather clauses in Guinn v. United States (1915) and dismantling the white primary system in the "Texas primary cases" (1927–1953). Along with later measures such as the Twenty-fourth Amendment, which forbade poll taxes in federal elections, and Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966), which forbade poll taxes in state elections, these decisions significantly increased black participation in the American political system. To enforce the amendment, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.

The amendment created a split within the women's suffrage movement over the amendment not prohibiting denying the women the right to vote on account of sex.

History of the United States Constitution

The United States Constitution was written in 1787 during the Philadelphia Convention. The old Congress set the rules the new government followed in terms of writing and ratifying the new constitution. After ratification in eleven states, in 1789 its elected officers of government assembled in New York City, replacing the Articles of Confederation government. The original Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times. The meaning of the Constitution is interpreted and extended by judicial review in the federal courts. The original parchment copies are on display at the National Archives Building.

Two alternative plans were developed in Convention. The nationalist majority, soon to be called "Federalists," put forth the Virginia Plan, a consolidated government based on proportional representation among the states by population. The "old patriots," later called "Anti-Federalists," advocated the New Jersey Plan, a purely federal proposal, based on providing each state with equal representation. The Connecticut Compromise allowed for both plans to work together. Other controversies developed regarding slavery and a Bill of Rights in the original document.

The drafted Constitution was submitted to the Confederation Congress. It in turn forwarded the Constitution as drafted to the states for ratification by the Constitutional method proposed. The Federalist Papers provided background and justification for the Constitution. Some states agreed to ratify the Constitution only if the amendments that were to become the Bill of Rights would be taken up immediately by the new government, and they were duly proposed in the first session of the First Congress.

Once the Confederation Congress certified that eleven states had ratified the Constitution, elections were held, the new government began on March 4, 1789, and the Articles Congress dissolved itself. Later Amendments address individual liberties and freedoms, federal relationships, election procedures, terms of office, expanding the electorate, ending slavery, financing government, consumption of alcohol and Congressional pay. Criticism over the life of the Constitution has centered on expanding democracy and states rights.

List of amendments to the United States Constitution

Thirty-three amendments to the United States Constitution have been proposed by the United States Congress and sent to the states for ratification since the Constitution was put into operation on March 4, 1789. Twenty-seven of these, having been ratified by the requisite number of states, are part of the Constitution. The first ten amendments were adopted and ratified simultaneously and are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. Six amendments adopted by Congress and sent to the states have not been ratified by the required number of states. Four of these amendments are still technically open and pending, one is closed and has failed by its own terms, and one is closed and has failed by the terms of the resolution proposing it. All 33 amendments are listed and detailed in the tables below.

Article Five of the United States Constitution details the two-step process for amending the nation's frame of government. Amendments must be properly proposed and ratified before becoming operative. This process was designed to strike a balance between the excesses of constant change and inflexibility.

An amendment may be proposed and sent to the states for ratification by either:

The United States Congress, whenever a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives deem it necessary;orA national convention, called by Congress for this purpose, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds (currently 34) of the states..

To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress):

The legislatures of three-fourths (currently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period if one is set;orState ratifying conventions in three-fourths (currently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period if one is set.

When a constitutional amendment is sent to the states for ratification, the Archivist of the United States is charged with responsibility for administering the ratification process under the provisions of 1 U.S.C. § 106b. Then, upon being properly ratified, the archivist issues a certificate proclaiming that an amendment has become an operative part of the Constitution.Approximately 11,770 proposals to amend the Constitution have been introduced in Congress since 1789 (as of January 3, 2019). Collectively, members of the House and Senate typically propose around 200 amendments during each two–year term of Congress. Most, however, never get out of the Congressional committees in which they were proposed, and only a fraction of those that do receive enough support to win Congressional approval to go through the constitutional ratification process.

Beginning in the early 20th century, Congress has usually, but not always, stipulated that an amendment must be ratified by the required number of states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states in order to become part of the Constitution. Congress' authority to set ratification deadline was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939).

Massachusetts Compromise

The Massachusetts Compromise was a solution reached in a controversy between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over ratification of the United States Constitution. The compromise helped gather enough support for the Constitution to ensure its ratification and lead to the adoption of the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights.

Anti-Federalists feared the Constitution would over-centralize government and diminish individual rights and liberties. They sought to amend the Constitution, particularly with a Bill of Rights as a condition before ratification. Federalists insisted that states had to accept or reject the document as written.

When efforts to ratify the Constitution encountered serious opposition in Massachusetts, two noted anti-Federalists, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, helped negotiate a compromise. The anti-Federalists agreed to support ratification, with the understanding that they would put forth recommendations for amendments should the document go into effect. The Federalists agreed to support the proposed amendments, specifically a bill of rights.

Following this compromise, Massachusetts voted to ratify the Constitution on February 6, 1788. Five states subsequently voted for ratification, four of which followed the Massachusetts model of recommending amendments along with their ratification.

Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. The amendment was adopted on August 18, 1920 as the culmination of the women's suffrage movement in the United States, which fought at both state and national levels to achieve the vote. It effectively overruled Minor v. Happersett (1875), in which a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not give women the right to vote. Since the 1860s, an increasing number of states had given women the right to vote, but several states still denied women the right to vote at the time the amendment was ratified.

The Nineteenth Amendment was originally introduced in Congress in 1878 by Senator Aaron A. Sargent. Forty-one years later, in 1919, Congress submitted it to the states for ratification. It was ratified by three-fourths of the states a year later, with Tennessee's ratification being the last needed to add the amendment to the Constitution. In Leser v. Garnett (1922), the Supreme Court rejected claims that the amendment was unconstitutionally adopted.

Outer Space Treaty

The Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law. The treaty was opened for signature in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on 27 January 1967, and entered into force on 10 October 1967. As of February 2019, 108 countries are parties to the treaty, while another 23 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification. In addition, Taiwan, which is currently recognized by 16 UN member states, ratified the treaty prior to the United Nations General Assembly's vote to transfer China's seat to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1971. The Outer Space Treaty does not ban military activities within space or the weaponization of space, with the exception of the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space.

Ratification of the United States Constitution by Rhode Island

The ratification of the United States Constitution by Rhode Island was the 1790 decision by the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations ("Rhode Island") to accede to the United States Constitution. It was a controversial process that occurred only after the United States threatened a trade embargo against Rhode Island for non-compliance.

Timeline of drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution

The drafting of the Constitution of the United States began on May 25, 1787, when the Constitutional Convention met for the first time with a quorum at the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to revise the Articles of Confederation, and ended on September 17, 1787, the day the Constitution drafted by the convention's delegates to replace the Articles was adopted and signed. The ratification process for the Constitution began that day, and ended when the final state, Rhode Island, ratified it on May 29, 1790. In addition to key events during the Constitutional Convention and afterward while the Constitution was before the states for their ratification, this timeline includes important events that occurred during the run-up to the convention and during the nation's transition from government under the Articles of Confederation to government under the Constitution, and concludes with the unique ratification vote of Vermont, which at the time was a sovereign state outside the Union. The time span covered is 5 years, 9 months, from March 25, 1785 to January 10, 1791.

Titles of Nobility Amendment

The Titles of Nobility Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The 11th Congress passed it on May 1, 1810, and submitted to the state legislatures for ratification. It would strip United States citizenship from any citizen who accepted a title of nobility from an "emperor, king, prince or foreign power." On two occasions between 1812 and 1816, it was within two states of the number needed to become part of the Constitution. Congress did not set a time limit for its ratification, so the amendment is still pending before the states. Ratification by an additional 26 states is now needed for its adoption.

Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Twenty-second Amendment (Amendment XXII) to the United States Constitution sets a limit on the number of times an individual is eligible for election to the office of President of the United States, and also sets additional eligibility conditions for presidents who succeed to the unexpired terms of their predecessors.Prior to the ratification of the amendment, the president had not been subject to term limits, but George Washington had established a two-term tradition that many other presidents had followed. In the 1940 presidential election, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to win a third term, giving rise to concerns about the potential issues involved with a president serving an unlimited number of terms. Congress approved the Twenty-second Amendment on March 24, 1947, and submitted it to the state legislatures for ratification. That process was completed on February 27, 1951, after the amendment had been ratified by the requisite 36 of the then-48 states (as neither Alaska nor Hawai'i had yet been admitted as states), and its provisions came into force on that date.

The amendment prohibits any individual who has been elected president twice from being elected again. Under the amendment, an individual who fills an unexpired presidential term lasting greater than two years is also prohibited from winning election as president more than once. Scholars debate whether the amendment prohibits affected individuals from succeeding to the presidency under any circumstances or whether it only applies to presidential elections.

Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Twenty-seventh Amendment (Amendment XXVII) to the United States Constitution prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives. The amendment is the most recent to be adopted, but one of the first proposed.

It was submitted by the 1st Congress to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, along with eleven other proposed amendments. While ten of these twelve proposals were ratified in 1791 to become the Bill of Rights, what would become the Twenty-seventh Amendment and the proposed Congressional Apportionment Amendment did not get ratified by enough states for them to also come into force with the first ten amendments.

The proposed congressional pay amendment was largely forgotten until 1982, when Gregory Watson, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote a paper for a government class in which he claimed that the amendment could still be ratified. A teaching assistant graded the paper a "C" and an appeal to the professor, Sharon Waite, failed, motivating Watson to launch a nationwide campaign to complete its ratification. The amendment eventually became part of the United States Constitution, effective May 5, 1992, completing a record-setting ratification period of 202 years, 7 months, and 10 days.

Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Twenty-third Amendment (Amendment XXIII) to the United States Constitution extends the right to vote in presidential elections to citizens residing in the District of Columbia. The amendment grants the district electors in the Electoral College as though it were a state, though the district can never have more electors than the least-populous state. The Twenty-third amendment was proposed by the 86th Congress on June 16, 1960, and was ratified by the requisite number of states on March 29, 1961.

The Constitution provides that each state receives presidential electors equal to the combined number of seats it has in the Senate and the House of Representatives. As the District of Columbia is not a state, it was not entitled to any electors prior to the adoption of the Twenty-third Amendment. As early as 1888, some journalists and members of Congress favored a constitutional amendment to grant the district electoral votes, but such an amendment did not win widespread support until the rise of the civil rights movement in the 1950s. The amendment was not seen as a partisan measure, and ratification of the amendment was endorsed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and both major party candidates in the 1960 presidential election. The ratification of the amendment made the district the only entity other than the states to have any representation in the Electoral College.

The first presidential election in which the District of Columbia participated was the election of 1964; starting with that election, the District of Columbia has consistently had three members of the Electoral College. Since the passage of Twenty-third Amendment, all but one of the district's electoral votes have been cast for the Democratic Party's presidential candidates. The Twenty-third Amendment did not grant the district voting rights in Congress, nor did it grant the district home rule. Many citizens of the district favor statehood or further constitutional amendments to address these issues.

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 ratification of 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 English Bill of Rights (1689) and the Magna Carta (1215).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. 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.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.

United States Constitution

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The Constitution, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress (Article One); the executive, consisting of the President (Article Two); and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts (Article Three). Articles Four, Five and Six embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it. It is regarded as the oldest written and codified national constitution in force.Since the Constitution came into force in 1789, it has been amended 27 times, including an amendment to repeal a previous one, in order to meet the needs of a nation that has profoundly changed since the eighteenth century. In general, the first ten amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, offer specific protections of individual liberty and justice and place restrictions on the powers of government. The majority of the seventeen later amendments expand individual civil rights protections. Others address issues related to federal authority or modify government processes and procedures. Amendments to the United States Constitution, unlike ones made to many constitutions worldwide, are appended to the document. All four pages of the original U.S. Constitution are written on parchment.According to the United States Senate: "The Constitution's first three words—We the People—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the federal and state governments."The first permanent constitution of its kind, adopted by the people's representatives for an expansive nation, it is interpreted, supplemented, and implemented by a large body of constitutional law, and has influenced the constitutions of other nations.

Virginia Ratifying Convention

The Virginia Ratifying Convention (also historically referred to as the "Virginia Federal Convention") was a convention of 168 delegates from Virginia who met in 1788 to ratify or reject the United States Constitution, which had been drafted at the Philadelphia Convention the previous year.

The Convention met and deliberated from June 2 through June 27 in Richmond at the Richmond Theatre, presently the site of Monumental Church. Judge Edmund Pendleton, Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention, served as the convention's president by unanimous consent.

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