Twenty-seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

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The Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution was proposed in 1789 as a part of the original Bill of Rights. In the original Bill, articles of amendment three through twelve were ratified by the states and became Amendments 1 through 10.

The second article, which eventually became the 27th Amendment, was ratified by only six states during the eighteenth century. The Constitution, however, puts no time limit on ratification and the bill proposing the twelve articles also lacked a time limit.

In 1873, Ohio ratified the second article to protest congressional pay increases, and in 1978, Wyoming did the same. In the mid 1980's, however, the status of the article of amendment was looked seriously and a campaign to have to have it ratified was undertaken, spearheaded by Gregory Watson, an aide to a Texas legislator. Between 1983 and 1992, the required number of states completed ratification of the article and it was certified by the Archivist of the United States as properly and fully ratified.

The purpose of the amendment was originally to ensure that any raise in pay for members of Congress would not take effect until the session following an election. It was envisioned as a method of controlling congressional pay increases - that if Congress voted for a raise that the electorate felt was unjustified, the electorate would not vote to send incumbents back to Congress. Note that because the amendment uses the word "varying," as opposed to "increasing," pay decreases must also take effect after an election.

Text of 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.