Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Failed Constitutional Amendments That Would Have Changed How America Wages War
What if war were unconstitutional?
Yes, it sounds like something John Lennon would say, but it was actually an attempted amendment to the Constitution in 1927. Alternatively, what if the U.S. was unable to supply equipment, aid, or funds, to nations engaged in war? This was proposed in 1938 and had it passed, World War II might have turned out differently for our Allies that depended on America for aid and supplies.
If you feel like you just stumbled into an alternate reality sketch comedy about American politics you’re not far off. The above were all attempted amendments to the Constitution. These are a few of 11,000 failed amendments to the Constitution that are part of the National Archives’ Amending America exhibit, in honor of the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.
There are 27 amendments to the Constitution. In order to add an amendment, it must pass two-thirds of both houses of Congress have to agree, then the proposed amendment must be approved by three fourths of the states before it is ratified.
Many of the proposals were indicative of the time, explained Christine Blackerby, a specialist with the Center for Legislative Archives who worked on the project for two-and-a-half years.
For example, in 1901, there was a proposal to deport or imprison anarchists for life, which came immediately after President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist.
“A lot of these are very reflective of that moment in time and that’s why they failed, they didn’t represent a longstanding concern that built up support over years or decades,” Blackerby told Task & Purpose.
Here some other amendments that didn’t take, at least two of which had to do with the government’s ability to seize property.
- Providing that the United States cannot be party to any aggressive war except upon declaration of war by Congress and ratification by majority of votes in majority of congressional districts in the United States (1915).
- Providing for the prohibition of war (1927).
- Conscripting private property for public use in time of war with or without compensation (1930).
- Providing that no money, property, or credit of the United States shall be donated, pledged, or loaned to a nation engaged in war (1938).
- Allowing the federal government to confiscate private property in a time of war (1939).
Unlike the above failed amendments, the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, was ratified in just 100 days in 1971, making it the fastest amendment ever passed, and the reason was that support for a lower voting age had been building for decades.
“The genesis for this amendment was actually during World War II when the draft age was lowered to 18 and at that point you now had a dichotomy between how old you had to be to fight and how old you had to be to vote on the war you’re fighting for,” said Blackerby.
While there were concerns at the time, it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that there was enough of a consensus that the voting age be changed, explained Blackerby. The amendment was the culmination of efforts stretching from World War II, through Korea, and well into Vietnam, so when it was finally ratified, it had the collective force of multiple generations behind it.
A group of vets are raising money to pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medals to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
For a cool $8.5 million, you could be the proud owner of a "fully functioning" F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jet that a South Florida company acquired from Jordan.
The combat aircraft, which can hit a top speed of 1,357 mph at 40,000 feet, isn't showroom new — it was built in 1980. But it still has a max range of 2,400 miles and an initial climb rate of 62,000 feet per minute and remains militarized, according to The Drive, an automotive website that also covers defense topics, WBDO News 96.5 reported Wednesday.
A doctor who treated accident victims has a radioactive isotope in his body. Russia says it came from his diet
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities said on Friday that a doctor who treated those injured in a mysterious accident this month had the radioactive isotope Caesium-137 in his body, but said it was probably put there by his diet.
The deadly accident at a military site in northern Russia took place on Aug. 8 and caused a brief spurt of radiation. Russian President Vladimir Putin later said it occurred during testing of what he called promising new weapons systems.
Groundwater at the Air Force Academy is contaminated with the same toxic chemicals polluting a southern El Paso County aquifer, expanding a problem that has cost tens of millions of dollars to address in the Pikes Peak region.
Plans are underway to begin testing drinking water wells south of the academy in the Woodmen Valley area after unsafe levels of the chemicals were found at four locations on base, the academy said Thursday.