The 27th Amendment Is Finally Ratified

The 27th Amendment Is Finally Ratified

( – Each and every amendment to the Constitution is set in place for a reason. While many of these amendments were ratified in a timely manner, often unanimously, one sticks out from the rest, the 27th Amendment. Read on to see what strangeness surrounds the 27th and how it finally became ratified years after being passed.

The Odd Origin Story of the 27th

The 27th Amendment, also known as the Congressional Pay Amendment, has an unusual history behind it. In 1789, the amendment was passed by two-thirds of both the House and Senate. This was one of the 12 amendments proposed, 10 being our Bill of Rights, which was ratified by the states in 1791. The 27th was only ratified by six states.

The First Congress didn’t put a time limit on the ratification of the 27th Amendment. As a result, some states would join the small group later on in the following centuries, long after the amendment had passed.

By the time 1982 rolled around, the 27th had become weak and virtually forgotten, and only a small number of the states needed to ratify the amendment had done so. A sophomore at the University of Texas, Gregory Watson, would begin his paper on the government process. His paper served as an argument that the 27th Amendment could still, in fact, be ratified.

The paper ultimately received a “C,” much to Watson’s dismay. Upset, he appealed his grade with the teacher’s assistant, then the professor. Even after such effort, the professor still handed Watson a “C.” Gregory has gone on record stating that moment was when he decided he was going to get the amendment formally ratified.

Gaining Momentum

Watson sent letters to state legislatures across the nation, though many simply shrugged off his idea. Senator William Cohen of Maine took well to the proposal, and in 1983, the state of Maine ratified the 27th Amendment. It was still far from the 38 states necessary to receive full ratification, but it was a step in the right direction. Watson didn’t stop there; he continued to push for the amendment’s ratification.

Making It Official

The 27th Amendment drew attention during a time when there was serious disapproval in both the performance, high salaries and benefits that members of Congress were enjoying. Given the nature of the 27th Amendment, this disapproval would help launch a campaign to see its ratification. Five more states jumped onboard in 1985, moving the total closer to its goal of 38.

In 1992, all 38 states needed to ratify the amendment had done so, and the 27th Amendment became official. Despite being more than 200 years after the amendment had been passed, it finally met the requirements of the Constitution and was ratified.

Valid Question

The need for this amendment has always been there as it prevents congressional members from increasing their pay significantly, at least not without the intervention of an election. While the 27th was certainly important, it has brought up a valid question: Does this outcome mean any old amendment could be ratified at any time? Well, yes — although experts see this occurrence as rare and gauge the likelihood of something similar happening as unlikely. Of course, with anything in history, time tells all.

Copyright 2022,