From worst to best, with paraphrased explanations and dates of ratification:
27. Eighteenth Amendment — Prohibits the manufacturing and sale of alcohol (1919)
Seriously, fuck you.
26. Second Amendment — The right to bear arms (1791)
I don’t even hate guns, but I hate people who defend this amendment enough to hate the amendment. However, I would like to submit that the 2nd is also the most misunderstood amendment, and was cool at the time.
25. Twelfth Amendment — Some bullshit tweak to the electoral college (1804)
Sorry, the correct answer was “abolish the electoral college.” You lose.
24. Twentieth Amendment — Changes dates on which terms begin and end (1933)
Did this really need to be an amendment? Was the fact that presidential terms now start on Jan. 20 important enough to codify in the actual constitution? Could have been a memo, guys.
23. Tenth Amendment — Federal government only possesses powers delegated to it by the states (1791)
In theory, this is a nice check on the power of the federal government, but have you seen some of these states lately? (Shudders)
22. Twenty-Fifth Amendment — A bunch of procedural stuff about succession to the presidency (1967)
This is only useful for people writing political thrillers about everyone in DC dying, and the assistant under-secretary for prairie law becoming president, or whatever.
21. Eleventh Amendment — You can’t sue a state if you ain’t from the state (1795)
(Loud snoring sounds)
20. Twenty-Third Amendment — Grants D.C. electors in electoral college (1961)
Yeah, fine. I guess they should have a say, although…have you met people from D.C., especially the ones who work in politics? Not great.
19. Sixteenth Amendment — Congress is allowed to levy new income taxes (1913)
We’re not tax-haters here at Paste—taxes are good and necessary—but the hell if we’re going to act like this is anything spectacular.
18. Seventeenth Amendment — Senators are elected by popular vote now (1913)
It used to be up to state legislatures, which is dumb in the exact way that the electoral college is dumb. Spoiler: One hundred years later, we still have the electoral college.
17. Twenty-Seventh Amendment — Increases or decreases in congressional salary can’t take effect until the next term of office (1992)
Amazingly, this was proposed in 1789 and only ratified 202 years later. Good job by Congress not making a “our new salary is ten billion dollars” law in the interim. That’s integrity.
16. Twenty-Second Amendment — Sets term limits on presidents (1951)
I’m going to call this one good, even though it was in reaction to one of my favorite presidents (FDR), because Donald Trump could live to like 125 and we’ll need it.
15. Twenty-Fourth Amendment — Makes it illegal to revoke voting rights via a poll tax (1964)
A lot of these amendments basically just show all the new and cagey ways people invented to be total assholes. “Amendment 34: No more denying people the right to vote because they fell for the ‘sphincter says what’ gambit at the poll location and your stupid racist state assembly passed a law saying that self-admitted sphincters are ineligible to vote.”
14. Twenty-Sixth Amendment — Sets the voting age at 18, basically (1971)
Yup. If you can die for the country in a war, you should be able to vote. Plus, recent history has shown that old people are bad at voting.
13. Twenty-First Amendment — Repeals Prohibition (1933)
DRIINNNKKKKK. (Another fact to hide from the aliens: It took way longer to abolish slavery than it did to abolish prohibition.)
12. Fifth Amendment — Prohibits self-incrimination, protects due process, other stuff (1791)
More importantly, it allows people to say “I take the fifth” in movies, which is a baller move that automatically makes you win any court case. (Note: My understanding of court cases is bad.)
11. Ninth Amendment — Protects “rights not enumerated” in the Constitution (1791)
This is a sneaky-good amendment, because you just know there were people who were like, “um, actually I can seize your wagon, because you’re shorter than me, and the constitution doesn’t specifically limit my rights to seize the property of smaller men.” This amendment is basically like, “we can’t write every single thing, guys. Don’t be dicks. Give him his wagon back.”
10. Seventh Amendment — Trial by jury in civil cases (1791)
Not as good as trial by jury for criminal cases, but still good.
9. Eighth Amendment — Prohibits excessive fines/bail and cruel and unusual punishment (1791)
“I object to your ban on cruel and unusual punishment!” —Someone, definitely, in history.
8. Fourth Amendment — Prohibits search and seizure, establish search warrant rules (1791)
Many, the early amendments were the best amendments. They were a solid bill of rights, and if you ask me, that’s what they should be called: The Bill of Rights.
7. First Amendment — All the free speech/free press/free religion/free protest stuff (1791)
I’m a journalist, so I believe this is good.
6. Sixth Amendment — Speedy trial by jury, notified of accusations, confront your accusers, right to a lawyer, etc. (1791)
Cooler than the seventh amendment.
5. Fourteenth Amendment – Establishes a whole slew of citizenship rights (1868)
This gave citizenship to former slaves, established due process and equal protection, and, on paper, is a big contender for the top spot. But it would be way cooler if it didn’t take a million subsequent Supreme Court cases for a lot of it to hold up, or if it didn’t take another 50 years to pass the amendment below…
4. Third Amendment — No quartering of soldiers in private homes (1791)
This probably should not be so high, but I really hate having roommates.
T-3: Nineteenth Amendment — No more restricting the right to vote based on gender (1920)
When aliens come down to learn about our country, we should lie and tell them this happened in 1820 instead of 1920.
T-3: Fifteenth Amendment — No more restricting the right to vote based on race, color (1870)
Please notice that these last two amendments are tied, and nobody here is choosing male minorities over women, despite the fact that Congress did exactly that, by a factor of 50 years. We here at Paste are way the fuck more woke than Old Congress.
1. Thirteenth Amendement — Abolishes slavery (1865)
Well, it took an actual war to do the very obvious correct thing, but I guess America gets a pat on the back for this one. Good job realizing slavery is bad.