Amendments 11-15 to the Constitution touch on several aspects of American structure and further defined the relationship between the government and the people and citizenship.
Read further to quickly learn how each of these Amendments protect you to this day and see how you can expand your knowledge on what you’re entitled to and more importantly what the government is not.
The Eleventh Amendment
“The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.”
The 11th Amendment gives some immunity to states in the federal courts by disallowing private parties from suing states in those courts.
Ratified on February 7, 1795 it was established to overrule the decision made in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), where Georgia lost to Chisholm in a federal court.
Folks recognized this could lead to a circumstance where the government could put their finger on states by exercising their judicial rights to hear the cases. Wisely, this loophole was averted.
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The Twelfth Amendment
“The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; -- the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; -- The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. [And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. --]* The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.“
The 12th Amendment (1804) cleared up issues in the electoral college to make sure the president and vice president are of the same political party.
The original system of counting votes made it possible for differing parties to enter these offices. Among other issues, this made the president a target, since his death would create a major shift in the political environment.
As tax-paying citizens we deserve a government that works for us - not one that is playing House of Cards.
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The Thirteenth Amendment
“Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.“
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery.
This was the first of the three grouped civil war amendments ratified in the 1860’s. While the Emancipation Proclamation declared slaves were free, the Amendment that Lincoln signed gave slaves the right to freedom.
This amendment finally brought to life that all men are created equal, as stated in the Declaration of Independence and it is our duty as Americans to stand firm in one of our most central values.
The Fourteenth Amendment
“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 the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.“
The 14th Amendment granted African Americans citizenship and expanded on Reconstruction guidelines.
Section 1: Everyone born in America is a citizen.
Section 2: Corrects the 3/5 compromise in African American representation.
Section 3: Prohibits former confederate leaders from serving.
Section 4: All debts relating to slavery were denied.
Section 5: Congress has the ability to enforce the previous sections.
These sections outlined rights and protections for African Americans during one of the most controversial times in our history and pushed forth the liberties that they were entitled to.
The Fifteenth Amendment
“Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude--
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.“
The 15th Amendment gave African American males the right to vote.
While the intent of this amendment is quite clear, Southern states still worked around it by creating Jim Crow laws, literacy tests and poll taxes among other obstacles. It wasn’t until 1965 that Congress passed the Voter Rights Act to solidify African American rights to vote.
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This grouping of Amendments touches upon several circumstantial ratifications, but they all point us toward a better America by looking out for the people. The key takeaway here is that the federal government works for us and as times change it’s up to us to keep it that way.
Thank you for reading, and may God bless America.
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