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THE DOCUMENT signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1787 was structured to check abuses of government in a number of ways and to make it flexible enough to survive without constantly being rewritten. Over 10,000 constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress, but both houses have approved only 33. Amendments that were never ratified by the states include the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), statehood for Washington, D.C., and a ban on child labor. The Constitution has been changed only 27 times, and nearly half of the amendments were adopted in the first 15 years of government operation. Six additional amendments were ratified between 1913 and 1933 in response to the Progressive movement. The liberal mood of the 1960s and early 1970s resulted in four new amendments; ...

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