The 27th Amendment

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – No amendment has been passed since 1992, when the 27th addressed how congressional pay could be changed.

But this final amendment was actually one of the first, having been originally introduced more than 200 years earlier.

A provision preventing Congress from giving itself a pay raise unless in an election year when they could be held accountable had been included in the original Bill of Rights, but did not pass with the first 10 amendments in 1791. Or for nearly another two centuries until the 27th amendment.

"Now the question became, is this constitutional?,'' said Armstrong Atlantic State University History professor Dr. Christopher Hendricks. "It has floated out there for 200 years and there was some debate about this, but the Supreme Court had rules in a case in 1939 that said unless there is a specific time limit then it was fine. So Congress hasn't raised its salary since. They get cost of living increases.''

The amendment had been proposed, but largely forgotten, until University of Texas undergraduate student Gregory Watson wrote a paper on the subject in 1982 and later started a new push for ratification with a letter-writing campaign to state legislatures.

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