AP US Government : Interpretation of Constitutional Amendments

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Interpretation Of Constitutional Amendments

The Twenty Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which sets out clear lines for the presidential order of succession, was largely precipitated by which event?

Possible Answers:

The assasination of John F. Kennedy.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Vietnam War.

The 1960 Presidential Election.

Correct answer:

The assasination of John F. Kennedy.

Explanation:

After John F. Kennedy was assasinated in November of 1963, his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was immediately sworn in as President. This was done out of custom more than through a defined legal process. During Johnson's presidency, the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which spelled out that the sitting Vice President was absolutely the next in line and the exact process after the Vice President, was moved through the ratification process and was officially adopted in February 1967.

Example Question #2 : Interpretation Of Constitutional Amendments

The Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution __________.

Possible Answers:

moved the beginning of the Presidential term forward from March to January

prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol

repealed prohibition

extended full suffrage rights to women

established a two-term limit for Presidents

Correct answer:

moved the beginning of the Presidential term forward from March to January

Explanation:

In the early years of the American Republic there was a considerable “lame duck” period of time, during which one President had either been voted out of office and another was waiting to enter office. This was originally four months, from the November elections until March; however, with improvements to technology and communications this was somewhat redundant by the time it was changed in 1933, with the passage of the Twentieth Amendment, which moved the beginning of the Presidential term forward from March to January.

Example Question #3 : Interpretation Of Constitutional Amendments

Which Amendment to the Constitution established Federal income tax?

Possible Answers:

The Eighteenth Amendment


The Seventeenth Amendment

The Nineteenth Amendment

The Twenty-First Amendment

The Sixteenth Amendment

Correct answer:

The Sixteenth Amendment

Explanation:

The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, enacted in 1913, allows the Federal Government to levy an income tax. The Seventeenth provided for the direct election of senators; the Eighteenth prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol; the Nineteenth extended suffrage rights to women; and the Twenty-First repealed prohibition.

Example Question #4 : Interpretation Of Constitutional Amendments

"Reverse incorporation" refers to what?

Possible Answers:

All of the other answers are correct

State laws overruling local laws

The process by which a state may secede from the United States

Adopting foreign cultural norms to integrate immigrants into the US

Applying state law to the federal government

Correct answer:

Applying state law to the federal government

Explanation:

Reverse incorporations refers to the few instances in which the states have applied state law to the federal government, referencing the incorporation doctrine by which the federal government applies the Bill of Rights to the states.

Example Question #5 : Interpretation Of Constitutional Amendments

The First, Second, and Third Amendments to United States Constitution are collectively referred to as __________.

Possible Answers:

safeguards of justice

safeguards of liberty

procedural safeguards

unenumerated powers

safeguards of civil rights

Correct answer:

safeguards of liberty

Explanation:

Amendments  are collectively referred to as safeguards of liberty. The first amendment guarantees religious freedom. The second amendment ensures the right to bear arms. The third amendment is concerned with quartering soldiers in private homes. In all cases these amendments are specifically concerned with individual rights and freedoms, hence their nickname.

Example Question #6 : Interpretation Of Constitutional Amendments

Which of the following Amendments extended the franchise to 18-year-olds?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

In order to answer this question, you need to know what “the franchise” is—although, hopefully, context clues helped you out. At any rate, it’s not the McDonalds or Burger King next door, it is the right to vote. Now, this question is slightly tricky, because many of the answers have something to do with the extension of the franchise. They are as follows:

15th: Extends the right to vote to all men; now, in reality, it extended the right to vote to black men, as white men already had the right to vote. Not to split hairs, but if you answered that it extended the right to vote to black men, that would be technically incorrect—read the amendment!

19th: Extends the right to vote to women

26th: The correct answer. Now, interestingly, this amendment technically sets the floor at 18—in other words, states are free to allow, say, 15 year olds to vote, but states are prohibited from making the age any higher than 18.

The two remaining answers, the 21st amendment and the 22nd amendment, are both incorrect. An easy way to remember the 21st amendment is: you have to be 21 to drink, and the 21st amendment lifted Prohibition. The 22nd amendment sets term limits—technically years, rather than terms—on the President.

Example Question #7 : Interpretation Of Constitutional Amendments

Which amendment contains what people commonly refer to as “the freedom of expression"?

Possible Answers:

The 13th Amendment

The 1st Amendment

The 4th Amendment

The 10th Amendment

Correct answer:

The 1st Amendment

Explanation:

The 1st Amendment protects five different rights: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition. The 1st Amendment is commonly known for the first three rights and people consider it as an overall right to freedom of expression. This Amendment allows people to express themselves in a variety of ways without restriction from, specifically, the government. Freedom of speech does not protect the speaker from criticism, or even legal actin if the speech is libelous. There are also 1st Amendment exceptions having to do with public safety, national security, and hate speech.

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