We’ve Done It Before: 7 Constitutional Amendments That Overruled the Court

The following Constitutional amendments were designed to overturn Supreme Court cases.

  1. The Eleventh Amendment—overturned, in 1795, a Supreme Court decision from 1793 allowing federal courts to hear cases in which a citizen of one state sues the government of another.
  2. The Thirteenth Amendment—abolished slavery, after Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) held that slaves could not sue for freedom because they and their children were not citizens.
  3. The Fourteenth Amendment—grants citizenship to anyone born or naturalized in the United States. This also overrules Dred Scott’s ruling that slaves were not eligible for citizenship.
  4. The Sixteenth Amendment—gives Congress the power to levy a direct national income tax, 18 years after 1895’s Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co. held that individual income taxes were unconstitutional.
  5. The Nineteenth Amendment—guarantees women the right to vote, even though Minor v. Happersett (1875) had found that the Fourteenth Amendment did not include women.
  6. The Twenty-fourth Amendment—bans poll taxes in federal elections. Two Supreme Court rulings, Breedlove v. Suttles in 1937 and Butler v. Thompson in1951, had allowed both state and federal governments to put financial conditions on the right to vote (designed to especially discourage African-American voters). The Court later decided, in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966), to ban poll taxes in states.
  7. The Twenty-sixth Amendment—allows 18-year-olds to vote in federal, state, and local elections. Oregon v. Mitchell (1970) had ruled that states could set their own minimum voting age. But with many 18-year-olds dying in the Vietnam war, the 26th amendment was adopted in 1971.
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