G CS 13

Basic Principles of the U.S. Constitution

Principles related to representative democracy are reflected in the articles and amendments of the U.S. Constitution and provide structure for the government of the United States.

Content Statement

13. Amendments 11, 21 and 27 have addressed unique historical circumstances.

Content Elaborations

Three amendments to the United States Constitution have come about due to particularly unique circumstances. One amendment addresses judicial power and another repeals a previous amendment. The most recent amendment took more than 200 years to be ratified.

The 11th Amendment was proposed in 1794, one year after the Supreme Court ruled in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) that a lawsuit involving a state being sued by a citizen from another state could be heard in a federal court. Concerns over the extent of federal power led to the passage of this amendment, which limits the jurisdiction of the federal courts in cases of this type. The amendment repeals a portion of Article III, section 2, clause 1 of the Constitution.

Congress enacted the Volstead Act to implement the provisions of the 18th Amendment. Difficulties in enforcing the law led to widespread disregard for Prohibition and increased criminal activities during the 1920’s. A successful 1932 Democratic Party campaign against Prohibition led to the proposal and ratification of the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment.

Originally proposed in 1789 to limit conflicts of interest among members of Congress in determining their own compensation, the 27th Amendment was not ratified with the 10 amendments known today as the Bill of Rights. Popular opposition to congressional pay raises in the 1980’s renewed interest in the amendment and it was ratified in 1992.

Expectations for Learning

Describe the unique circumstances surrounding the adoption of Amendments 11, 21 and 27.