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Analysis of the Significance of the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution

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“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution” (Abraham Lincoln). This powerful quote by Lincoln really illustrates that our Constitution is something that is very important to the citizens of the US, and no one can take it away from the people. The BIll of Rights include the 10 amendments, this gives people the essential rights that are deserved. Now the addition of the other amendments is the beauty of it all, because the Constitution allows for the addition of new Amendments. Now the process of adding new amendments is difficult but that power given by the writers of the Constitution is really amazing. They knew that change will occur. Now the amendment that will be covered in this paper will be the 27th amendment, the last amendment added.

The 27th amendment “was one of 12 consitutional articles proposed in 1789 by James Madison, 10 of which eventually became the Bill of Rights” (DeBenedictis, 26). This amendment states that if Congress “gives itself a pay raise, voters must have the opportunity to throw the rascals out before they collect” ( DeBenedictis, 26). So if a law that is passed increases or decreases someone's pay in Congress, then Congress has to wait until the next election cycle for that change to occur ( Team, Content. '27Th Amendment - Definition, Examples, Cases, Processes').

Many were afraid of Congress's power to establish its own salary, so many states ratified the amendment. Although only six states ratified it at first. It took so long for the amendment to be ratified because the Supreme Court previously established that if an amendment did not have a specific date by which the amendment may be ratified, state legislatures were able to approve the amendment at their own leisure. Only 38 states needed to ratify the 27th amendment, in order to put it into effect. The interesting thing is that James Madison proposed this amendment in 1789 but it was ratified in 1992, almost 203 years after it was proposed. Amending the US Constitution is rarely discussed and examined, but it’s clear that it’s a difficult job to accomplish, since the 27th amendment took so long to be finally ratified. The amendment was triggered due to “the growing disenchantment with congressional perquisites and arrogance” ( Strickland, 5). Another interesting thing is something that should’ve been the Second Amendment is actually the last, the 27th amendment.

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An undergrad college student actually proposed that the amendment could be ratified in a term paper that he wrote. He actually received a C for this term paper. Gregory Watson, was a student, and he started a grassroots campaign. Richard B. Bernstein in a Fordham Law Review Article, called Watson “step-father” of the 27th Amendment. Watson at the time was a sophomore at the University of Texas-Austin, he was searching for a topic for a government assignment. He came across the 27th Amendment, and realized that only six states had ratified it at the time, and he noticed how little was being done about it. Watson then concluded that the Amendment still had time to be ratified, because “Congress never stipulated a time limit for states to consider it for ratification” (The National Constitution Center, 1). But his professor gave him a C on the paper, the professor was calling it a “dead letter”. Watson decided to prove his argument by starting a one man campaign. He wrote several letters to Congress in hopes of getting people on his side. A senator from Maine forwarded his proposal to the states legislatures, and after that the amendment was quickly ratified. After all his work to make the 27th amendment possible, he eventually did receive an A on his paper instead of a C.

A Supreme Court case involving the process of ratifying amendments was presented, due to the late ratification of the 27th amendment. One was, Dilon V. Gloss, A Supreme Court case from 1921, a unanimous decision said that, “when amendments are… proposed, the reasonable implication (is) that when proposed they are to be considered and disposed of presently” (The National Constitution Center, 1). But, the Court didn’t exactly implement an expiration date on the ratification of amendments. In Coleman v. Miller (1939), this Supreme Court case, argued on the fact whether the Supreme Court should set a deadline when ratifying an amendment. But since Congress didn’t have a deadline, the Supreme Court could not have one as well. So the ruling came to that they should not set a deadline. Making the 27th amendment a valid amendment ( Strickland, 9).

To keep Congresses members from giving themselves a pay raise, the 27th amendment is there for us to thank. This amendment may seem to be not as important as the other amendments, but it does hold tremendous power as well. This Amendment took a long to ratify, almost 200 years. It may be true that it doesn't really impact the everyday citizen, but it keeps the members of Congress in check.

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Analysis of the Significance of the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“Analysis of the Significance of the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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