Happy birthday, 27th Amendment!
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the 27th Amendment (ratified May 7, 1992). Here’s what you need to know:
WHAT IT DOES
The 27th Amendment makes sure that members of Congress can’t vote for their own pay raises (or pay cuts)–any change in compensation won’t take effect until the next election.
WHY IT WAS ADDED
The 27th Amendment, which is the most recent addition to the Constitution, was actually among the amendments that James Madison proposed in 1789. Ten of those amendments were approved and became known as the Bill of Rights, but this one languished for another 203 years, making it the longest ratification process in U.S. history.
So what revived Madison’s original vision? In 1982, Gregory Watson, a 20-year-old college student at the University of Texas, Austin, wrote a paper on Madison’s unratified proposal. He launched a letter-writing campaign and within a decade, in large part thanks to his efforts, what would have been the Second Amendment was passed as the 27th Amendment.
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
Civic holidays are occasions to commemorate America’s history, celebrate our rights and responsibilities as citizens, and learn about our constitutional ideals. Download a PDF of the 2013 Civic Calendar here.
Holly Munson is the assistant editor of Constitution Daily.
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