The amendments are for voting

the reinstitution of the poll tax

firstvoteIt occurred to me that many of the Constitutional amendments involve voting and elections. I’m excluding the Bill of Rights. If you ignore Amendments 18 and 21, which canceled each other out over prohibition, it’s a clear majority. The first group involves eligibility of voters, the latter, the process.

Amendment 15 (1870) – says 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.”

But “the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.” And the VRA was gutted by SCOTUS in 2013.

Amendment 17 (1913) – removed from state legislatures the power to choose U.S. Senators and gave that power directly to voters in each state. The arguments for it “sounded in the case for direct democracy, and the problem of hung state legislatures. Also, it freed the Senate from the influence of corrupt state legislatures.

Still, some conservatives still argue for its repeal, on the theory that it “would protect states’ rights and reduce the power of the federal government.”

Susan B. Anthony didn’t ask for that pardon

Amendment 19 (1920) – “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 sex.”

Amendment 23 (1961) – allows citizens residing in the District of Columbia to vote for presidential electors, who in turn vote in the Electoral College for President and Vice President. Now if they could only get a voting Member of Congress.

Amendment 24 (1964) -outlawed the poll tax as a voting requirement in federal elections. The poll tax exemplified “Jim Crow” laws, developed in the post-Reconstruction South. These rules aimed to disenfranchise black voters and institute segregation.

Then in 1966, SCOTUS ruled in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections that “poll taxes for ANY level of elections were unconstitutional. It said these violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Yet some would argue – I certainly would – that SCOTUS in 2020 allowed the reinstitution of a poll tax. It “failed to upend a lower court move that is preventing otherwise eligible citizens with felony records from registering to vote if they cannot afford to pay off old court fees and fines.”

Amendment 26 (1971) – The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.


Amendment 12 (1804) – if you’re a fan of the musical Hamilton, you may know the Election of 1800. Thomas Jefferson and his vice-presidential running mate Aaron Burr both received an identical number of electoral votes. The amendment stipulates that each elector must cast distinct votes for president and vice president, instead of two votes for president.

Amendment 20 (1933) removed the “excessively long period of time a defeated president or member of Congress would continue to serve after his or her failed bid for reelection.”

Amendment 22 (1951) created a two-term limit on the Presidency. It would not have applied to Harry Truman, who was president at the time of its enactment.


Third Amendment riff – John Mulaney Monologue – SNL (from 3:53 to 6:06)

Hey 19, that’s a woman’s right to vote


woman's right to vote“The 19th Amendment guarantees American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation.”

In fact, “opposition to woman suffrage in the US predated the Constitutional Convention (1787)… Still, there was opposition to such patriarchal views from the beginning, as when Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, asked her husband in 1776, as he went to the Continental Congress to adopt the Declaration of Independence, to ‘remember the ladies and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.’ In the scattered places where women could vote in some types of local elections, they began to lose this right in the late 18th century.”

In July 1848… the Seneca Falls Convention launched the women’s rights movement. “The Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances was ratified by the assembly. They also passed 12 resolutions that specifically necessitated equal rights for women including the resolution that proclaimed women’s right to vote.”

A constitutional amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878. Some suffragists challenged male-only voting laws in the courts. “More public tactics included parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. Supporters were heckled, jailed, and sometimes physically abused.” Many Americans found the idea of a woman voting a radical change. It was generally accepted among men that women should be “protected from the evils of politics.”


Interestingly, the struggle was more successful in the western part of the country. It was Wyoming, in 1869, which became the first territory to grant women the right to vote. When it joined the union in 1890, it became the first state to grant female citizens the ballot. Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), Idaho (1896), Washington (1910), and Colorado (1911) followed.

“By 1914, every state west of the Rockies had granted females the right to vote. Kansas was the only state east of the Rockies to accept women’s suffrage. Why the divide? Some historians believe pioneer women were more highly regarded for their role in settling the West. Others suggest that there were fewer women in the West, therefore men valued and respected them more. Either way, New York didn’t grant women the right to vote until 1917.

“On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and two weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920,” the threshold was reached. The amendment was certified on 26 August.

The National Archives is having a virtual commemoration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment. The struggle for women’s suffrage, leading up to and beyond the certification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920.


In recent Presidential elections, female voters outnumber male voters.

‘Ms. Jacobs! Is that you?!’ AOC’s Twitter reunion with her second-grade teacher.

The 19th*

This Poynter article recaps the 2016 presidential election.

“Hillary Clinton was running for president. Two questions followed Clinton. “Is she electable? Is she likable?

“‘That felt so unfairly narrowly tailored to women candidates,” [Emily] Ramshaw, [then editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribun] said. “That was the moment it first occurred to me that it would be incredible to have a storytelling platform that was by women for women.'”

Launching August 2, “The 19th* is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on the intersection of gender, politics, and policy. It is funded by a mix of membership, philanthropy, and corporate underwriting. The name says it all, right down the asterisk.”

C is for Constitution of the US

There are Constitutional scholars who believe that not only must Donald Trump take his salary, but that it is appropriate so that he knows he’s being paid by the people of the United States.

The Constitution

If you’re ever looking at the Constitution of the United States, make sure you look at one that is footnoted, such as this one. It gives the reader a better sense of the trial and error that is the American experience.

For instance, Article I, Section 2, paragraph 3: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other Persons.”

“All others” were slaves, who were three-fifths of a person. The matter was altered by Amendment 13.

Article II, Section 1, paragraph 3: “The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President.”

This became unworkable in the election of 1800 when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes, and dealing made TJ the Prez and Burr the Veep. The process has been superseded by Amendment 12, with separate ballots for President and Vice-President. This was referred to in the musical Hamilton.

The first 10 amendments are called the Bill of Rights. Amendment 1 is probably best known: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Some legal scholars feel Amendment 4 is particularly under attack: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The post-Bill of Rights amendments often deal with expanding the vote. 15 – regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” 19- regardless of “sex.” 24 – regardless of “failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” 26- allows 18-year-olds to vote, when the age had been 21, generally. Amendment 17 allows for the direct election of US Senators, rather than them being selected by state legislatures.

Two Amendments canceled each other out. The 18th permitted prohibition of alcohol, but the 21st scrubbed the social experiment.

One section I had not noted until recently is Article II, Section 1, paragraph 7: “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

This has been an issue for a few reasons. The new president, Donald J. Trump, has indicated that he would not take a salary for being President. There are Constitutional scholars who believe that not only must he take the payment, but that it is appropriate so that he knows he’s being paid by the people of the United States. George Washington tried to avoid being paid, but was talked out of it.

Also, the Trump organization owns buildings for which the US government is paying rent. This could be considered “other emolument,” and could cause a Constitutional crisis early in his administration.

Amending the Constitution of the United States is very difficult. There has been only one amendment passed since 1971, and that was in the hopper for more than two centuries.

ABC Wednesday – Round 20

The Constitution is difficult to amend

Justice John Paul Stevens explains that gun control initiatives are not necessarily contrary to the Second Amendment.

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather QuillNothing is more fundamental in our democracy than our right to vote. “We are witnesses today to attacks on that hard-won right… Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP… reminded us that our votes were paid for with blood.” So, of all the Supreme Court decisions in the last couple of years, the one gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was among the most troubling. What Happened Next in These 8 States Will Not Shock You.

Therefore, I was slack-jawed when some guy wrote: “The Democrats have had a dream run in the Supreme Court over the past 6 years until now.” In response to all of the failings of the Court over decades, a writer suggested five ways to reform SCOTUS, which will NEVER happen.

Speaking of “will never happen”: From Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, by former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens. “The politics of the Second Amendment became the focal point of the gun debate. Gun supporters argued against the federal government’s claim that background checks and limitations on certain firearms should be put in place through public policy. In this excerpt, Justice Stevens explains that gun control initiatives are not necessarily contrary to the Second Amendment and that it is Congress’ responsibility to pass sensible legislation to prevent future tragedies.”

Something I hope will happen: a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, challenge corporate power, and eliminate unlimited campaign spending. There are a number of state and local resolutions supporting it. But it’s very difficult to amend the Constitution. Even if the US Senate passes such legislation, I sincerely doubt the House will any time soon.
xkcd explains the First Amendment (strong language). To that end, Arthur explains the difference between fascism and free speech. And, I’d say, it isn’t just progressive gays dumped on the “fascist” end of the spectrum, but the “feminazis” (pretty much anyone who owns up to being a feminist) and the “race baiters”/”race hustlers” (usually defined as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barack Hussein Obama.)

Also, when a hospital worker is fired over remarks on her Facebook page – “urging police to ‘purge’ protesters in Ferguson, MO by ‘mowing them down with machine guns,'” This is NOT a violation of the woman’s Constitutional rights. “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…” This applies to the states too, per the Fourteenth Amendment, but it does NOT apply to the hospital.

AND the woman doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about the Ferguson protesters’ First Amendment rights.
Or, for that matter, their Fifth Amendment right NOT to be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Or their Sixth Amendment rights to a “speedy and public trial.”

Jaquandor loves this quote from the court case section of the film Amistad; for more info re the actual 1839-1841 case, read here.

Can We Have Bipartisan Agreement To Stop Complaining About Presidential Vacations?. I’m less irritated than bored by this. Especially from Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal kvetching about Obama, when she used to work for Ronald Reagan, no vacation slouch.

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