Timelines connect to each of the articles and amendments in the Constitution as well as to topics, such as health care, energy and the environment, and women’s rights. Also available is an interactive in which judges explain the parts of the Sixth Amendment.
The 14th Amendment granted U.S. citizenship to former slaves and contained three new limits on state power: a state shall not violate a citizen’s privileges or immunities; shall not deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; and must guarantee all persons equal protection of the laws.
The suffrage movement leads to Congress’ approval of the 19th Amendment, which reads: “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. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
The 20th Amendment moves the start of the president’s new term from March 4 to January 20. It also provides for succession plans if the newly elected president of vice president is unable to assume his or her position.
The 23rd Amendment gives residents of the District of Columbia the right to have their votes counted in presidential elections. D.C. residents have only one non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives.
The 25th Amendment was passed in order to clarify what happens upon the death, removal, or resignation of the president or vice president and how the presidency is temporarily filled if the president becomes disabled and cannot fulfill his responsibilities.
The 27th Amendment prevents members of Congress from granting themselves pay raises during the current session. Rather, any raises that are adopted must take effect during the next session of Congress.
The framers of the Articles of Confederation at the Constitutional Convention caution against an imbalance of power among the branches of government. To protect against that pitfall, they enumerate a system of checks and balances and outline broad but contained rights for each of three branches.
Article III of the Constitution establishes that there shall be a Supreme Court and other lower federal courts that Congress can create. Because Article III does not include many specifics about the structure of these courts, as one of its first orders of business, Congress passes the Judiciary Act of 1789.