Archive for March, 2023

Comments on the House Debate on the Sixteenth Amendment

A previous essay (12 Feb 2023) contained the full House debate on the Sixteenth Amendment from 12 Jul 1909.  I have included here a few comments on the debate, mostly pointing out the main arguments and rhetorical themes made by both sides.  The page numbers in bold refer to the original numbering in the Congressional Record, as shown in the previous essay. 

There are a few items to keep in mind regarding Constitutional amendments:

a. An amendment can be proposed by Congress, and can specify whether it is to be ratified by the State legislatures, or by conventions called in each State doe the sole purpose of debating the amendment.

b. Constitutional amendments require ratification by three-fourths of the States before it becomes part of the Constitution.  In 1909, there were 46 States, thus 35 were required for ratification. But, New Mexico and Arizona were expected to join the Union (which they did in 1912), and three-fourths amounts to a requirement for 36 States to ratify the amendment.

The enclosed pdf contains a summary of the arguments made in the House on 12 Jul 1909 regarding the Amendment to permit an income tax (16th Amendment).  They are divided into several categories as shown.

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