Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution

From Academic Kids

Amendment XXVI (the Twenty-sixth Amendment) of the United States Constitution states:

Section 1.

The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2.

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Interpretation and history

This amendment grants suffrage to those eighteen years of age and older.

The amendment was first introduced to Congress by West Virginia representative Jennings Randolph in 1941. Randolph argued that people who were old enough to fight and die for the country during wars should also have the right to vote. Randolph left the House in 1947, but became a senator in 1959 and began to introduce the amendment at every session.

Suffrage to those eighteen or older was endorsed by Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson. A law was passed in the 1960s which was similar to the amendment, but the government of Oregon challenged it in court (Oregon v. Mitchell), and the Supreme Court overturned the parts of the law which required states to register 18-year-olds for state elections. By this time, five states had already granted citizens under the age of 21 the right to vote (Georgia and Kentucky observed 18 as the minimum voting age, Alaska 19, and Hawaii and New Hampshire 20), but many citizens wanted all states to do so.

Congress and the state legislatures felt increasing pressure to pass the Constitutional amendment because of the Vietnam War, in which many young men who were ineligible to vote were conscripted to fight, and died. With this in his mind, President Lyndon Johnson had asked Congress to propose an amendment lowering the voting age to 18 in the summer of 1968. The amendment passed through Congress when it was reintroduced by Randolph in 1971, and within months passed three-fourths of the state legislatures, more quickly than any other amendment. The 26th Amendment was formally certified by President Richard Nixon on July 1, 1971.

A semi-intended consequence of the 26th Amendment was that after its passage, one state after another then lowered the minimum age for exercising most other adult rights, such as marrying and signing contracts without parental consent, to 18 as well (Mississippi being the last); by the end of the 1980s all fifty states had done so. The issuance of one adult privilege did run counter to this trend, as the minimum age for the purchase of alcoholic beverages has been 21 throughout the United States since 1989 (prior to the late 1970s about half the states observed a lower drinking age, most frequently 18; the age was raised based on statistics which purportedly showed that drivers aged 18 through 20 were, on aggregate, more likely to engage in drunk driving).

See also

External link

Template:US Constitution

it:Costituzione degli Stati Uniti/XXVI emendamento


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