What is the most useless amendment to the constitution?

There was a pretty funny bit I saw George Carlin do once where he compressed the 10 commandment into 3, explaining that some of them are redundant. It was funny, but it also kind of made sence.

I got to thinking - perhaps the same logic could be used to evaluate our constitutional amendments.

So, besides the 18th and 21 amendment (prohabition and it’s repeal), which amendments are, in retrospect, not relelent, or redundant, or just not envoked.

Or, in other words, provide a list of constitutional amendments in order from least useful to most useful.

Number 3 springs to mind:

I did a search for any case that it was used or a case was based on it and couldn’t find a single one.

My first reaction was similar to JamesCarrol: #3 is pretty obscure. But check out Engblom v. Carey for one of the few times it’s been raised in court. (The case is described in “In Our Defense” by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy.)

Sorry to post and run, but I can’t go into details right now.

#3 is based on the English military practice of commandeering any house that is within their location to be used as command posts or hospice around the time of the revolutionary war. They basically take over the place, take what they want and leave the owner high and dry with the damage.

The US military compensates for any land or property use.

Number 3 was stuck in because the British had the habit of just moving into your home and staying about as long as they liked rather than going to the expense of building barracks, forts, and so forth. Perhaps a bit of simplifacation. But it was one of the bigger reasons for the revolution.

Since everyone in the US was pissed about it and the US Army generally had a fort or whatever to lay about in it never became much of an issue after 1800.

The situation is far more complicated than third-grade history would have us believe. The controversy over quartering soldiers IN PEACETIME (you will note that the third amendment permits soldiers to commandeer quarters in wartime) was a long-running argument back in England. Essentially, this amendment set up a specific decision regarding the controversy. As for the US military compensating “for any land or property use”, that is only recent policy. In the US Revolution, American officers were quite punctilious about making sure that they and their men had sufficient opportunity to loot. In the Civil War, it was more sporadic, but Union troops still looted and officers winked at it.

Absolute prohibition against looting, even from enemy civilians, had to wait until the 20th century.

The first part of Amendment VII seems to be in need of some updating:

“In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars”

As the value of the dollar has gone down, our rights to a jury trial have gone up. Viva inflation.

There’s never been a Supreme Court Case involving the 3rd, and the 18th and 21st of course cancel each other out. You could make the argument that the 9th and 10th just state the obvious, and we’ve strayed so far from the text of the 11th SCOTUS now says sovereign immunity is “inherent in the document” rather than coming from the 11th Amendment. If we repealed it the Supremes would probably just say it was only enacted to reverse a single decision that was bad law in the first place anyway, and go on doing just as they’ve done.

After those allready mentioned I would say XXVII is really not needed. We managed to get by for 200+ years with out it.

27th bars congress from raising its own salaries, they can only raise future congresses. that’s not useful?

With incumbents being re-elected at a 90+ percentage rate, the usefulness to today’s Congressperson of raising the salary of tomorrow’s Congressperson is quite clear.

Did you think it was useful in some other way?

I suppose it is usefull, in the same way that III is useful in keeping the national guard from hanging out in my garage for months at a time. The OP asked which amendments were least useful with the idea of ranking them from least to most important. Others have pointed out some of the really needless amendments, my point in raising XXVII was simply to point out that it is fairly useless. Contrast the impact of XXVII with XIV or I or V and I think you will understand. Further, the fact that we made it 200 years w/o XXVII is evidence that the political process provided enough of a check on Congress’s salary to prevent chaos.

XXV is rather useless. That’s revising the rules for presidential succession from what they were under XX.

XXIII has also been pretty irrelevant. It gives Washington, DC 3 electoral votes in the presidential election. The closest this has come to mattering in the results is that Gore officially lost to Bush by 5 electoral votes instead of 7 (1 DC elector abstained). Although I guess it’s nice that citizens of DC are not completely disenfranchised.

Congress gets around this amendment by sleight-of-hand, and it’s supported by the courts.

Source: http://www.claremont.org/projects/jurisprudence/011022eastman.html

The government said this - http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2001/0responses/2001-0094.resp.html

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Hardly a fair statement of the 25th amendment, which protects the government and the nation both against physical or mental incapacity in the Presidential office, and against a case where there may be rival claimants attempting to exercise Presidential power.

At the time of President Kennedy’s assassination, Vice President Johnson’s succession to the Presidency left a vacancy in the vice presidency–a situation that had occurred after the other seven vice-presidential successions, but that was suddenly far less acceptable in the nuclear era, with a Cold War on. The crisis was exacerbated because the next two successors in line for the Presidency were 71-year-old House Speaker John McCormack and 86-year-old Senate President pro tem Carl Hayden, who had been chosen for reasons other than their fitness as Presidential successors. The crisis was solved (up to a point, at least) by the 25th amendment, proposed in 1965 and ratified in 1967.

To date, the amendment has been used primarily for filling vice-presidential vacancies. But its less-used provisions, which establish a mechanism for dealing with an incapacitated chief of state, are necessary safeguards for the continuity of lawful authority in a constitutional crisis. Thank God that the country has never needed those provisions, but thank God that they are there in case we ever do.

According to the SCOTUS, it’s the Tenth - "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. " It’s been referred to as a “truism” by the court, and no case has applied it favorably (i.e. ruled a law unconstitutional because it violated the Tenth).

One can argue that the existence of the Third Amd. has prevented such to take place, so it’s been remarkably useful.

By the same token, the Ninth, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” is pretty much useless, given the broad interpretation given the Commerce Clause (Art. I, Sec. 8, clause 3 - “Congress shall have the power…To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes…”), by the courts. However, arguably one case of recent vintage (U.S. v. Lopez) has reined in the abuse of the Commerce Clause, and may have breathed some hint of life into the Ninth. However, the court has not revisited the Commerce clause since, to the consternation of legal scholars across the nation.

This is not a General Question with a factual answer. IMHO is for opinions and polls. Please read the forum descriptions.

Off to IMHO.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

The Twelfth Amendment (defining the electoral college) should have been repealed at least a century ago, IMO. The fact that a relative handful of people can decide who becomes President against a majority popular vote seems to me to obviate a popular vote to begin with. Why bother with voters when their choice can be thrown out by a few electors?

You may have guessed that I’m still stinging from the last “selection.” I realize that not even a majority of those eligible bothered to vote, but when they know that the Electoral College can take the choice away from them, why should they? YMMV.

The custom of quartering troops in civilian homes was widespread in the modern age throught Europe. In the middle ages there were no permanent, standing, armies but rather they were organized, mostly during good weather, for specific campaigns. With the advent of the modern nation-state in the modern age kings began to have a more permanent army and campaigns could be carried out even in winter so the custom was established that troops were quartered in private homes. While, in theory they should be respectful of their hosts, in fact the people feared friendly troops aabout as much as enemy troops. Nothing was safe from them, the chicken in the yard or the daughter in her room. They were like the locust which desolated any area they passed.

Laws were passed regulating the practice. In most places nobles were exempt and so were members of the clergy. This lead to legal cases. Many families would ordain a member of their family of minor orders, which was pretty much meaningless but prevented troops from being quartered in their house. Many military commanders then took the view that it was the room of the ordained person which was exempt but not the entire house. Also, there was the curious situation in the Basque country where every single person was considered to be noble and exempt from this and other burdens.

The people of Europe were fed up with having to put up with soldiers be they friend or foe.

We have discussed this in many threads so I am not sure we want to have this argument all over again but, in any case, it will not happen because the sammler states would veto it. It was a compromise so the smaller states would not feel so outnumbered by the big ones. The idea that a straight numerica count ofl votes makes things right is just silly. Compromises are often reached which take many other things into account. A democracy which does not respect minorities is doomed because those minorities will revolt. The world is full of instances where votes are not given the same weight and there’s nothing wrong with that if the solution works.

Which might give some of your opponents some satisfaction. You’d do better getting over it.

You make it sound like the composition of the EC is totally unrelated to the popular vote which is not the case; the popular vote determines the composition of the EC.