Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution facts for kids

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The Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution (Amendment XXVII) has to do with the salaries paid to members of the United States Congress.

Congress is made of two "Houses," and the members of each House serve different terms (amounts of time in office). Members of the United States Senate serve six-year terms, and members of the United States House of Representatives serve two years each. The Twenty-seventh Amendment says that no law can change Congresspeople's salaries until a new two-year term for Representatives starts.

As of 2016, the Twenty-seventh amendment is the last amendment that has been added to the Constitution. It took longer for the states to ratify this amendment than any other in history. The 1st United States Congress sent the suggested amendment to the states for their approval on September 25, 1789. It was not until May 7, 1992, that enough states ratified the amendment for it to be added to the Constitution. The ratification process had taken 202 years, 7 months, and 12 days – the longest in United States history.

Text

When Congress first proposed the amendment in 1789, this is the text they suggested:

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

History

On September 25, 1789, the first United States Congress gave a group of 12 amendments to the states for their approval. Written by James Madison, these were the first 12 Constitutional amendments ever written. One of them was an amendment about salaries for Members of Congress. Madison wanted to protect against Congresspeople being able to give themselves raises whenever they wanted to, while they were in the middle of their terms and the people could not vote them out.

In 1791, the states ratified ten of the 12 suggested amendments. These ten amendments became the Bill of Rights. However, the state did not ratify the other two amendments out of the 12 – including the one on limiting pay for Congresspeople.

Proposal and ratification

Proposal by Congress

James Madison first proposed this amendment in the United States House of Representatives on June 8, 1789. On August 24, 1789, the House passed the suggested amendment and sixteen others. The proposals went next to the United States Senate, which made 26 different changes to the House's suggested amendments. After taking out some parts of the House amendments, and combining others, the Senate approved a package of twelve suggested amendments on September 9, 1789.

27th amendment ratification
     Ratified Amendment between 1789–1792      Ratified Amendment, 1873      Ratified Amendment, 1978–1991      Ratified Amendment, May 1992      Ratified Amendment after it was enacted, 1992–95      Ratified Amendment twice (NC: 1789/1989; KY: 1792/1996)      Never ratified the Amendment

Now a committee of House and Senate members had to meet to figure out a compromise and come up with amendments that they could all agree on. After three days, they had come up with 12 suggested amendments, which they brought back to the full House and Senate. That same day – September 24, 1789 – the House agreed on the 12 proposed amendments. The next day, the Senate agreed too. The 12 amendments included the one on Congressional pay.

Ratification by the states

Congress sent the package of 12 amendments to the states on September 25, 1789. For these amendments to be added to the Constitution, three-fourths of the state legislatures would have to ratify (approve) the amendments. At the time, there were only 11 states (North Carolina and Rhode Island had not ratified the Constitution yet ). This meant just nine states would have to approve the amendments to add them to the Constitution.

On December 15, 1791, the states ratified ten of the twelve suggested amendments. These got added to the Constitution together as the Bill of Rights. However, at this time, only six states had ratified the Congressional pay amendment.

Over the next 186 years, only two more states ratified the Amendment. Meanwhile, many more states joined the United States. This meant that a larger number of states would need to ratify the amendment to get it added to the Constitution, since three-fourths of the state legislatures needed to ratify it, and there were more and more states as time went on.

The states ratified the Amendment in this order:

Order State Date Years
Since 1789
Notes
1 Maryland December 19, 1789 0
2 North Carolina December 22, 1789 0 Reaffirmed (re-signed) July 4, 1989
3 South Carolina January 19, 1790 1
4 Delaware January 28, 1790 1
5 Vermont November 3, 1791 2
6 Virginia December 15, 1791 2
Kentucky June 27, 1792 3 Ratification was unknown until 1992 ; Reaffirmed March 21, 1996
7 Ohio May 6, 1873 84 Ratified as a protest against the 1873 "Salary Grab Act"
8 Wyoming March 6, 1978 189 Ratified as a protest against a Congressional pay raise
9 Maine April 27, 1983 194
10 Colorado April 22, 1984 195
11 South Dakota February 21, 1985 196
12 New Hampshire March 7, 1985 196 State had rejected ratification in 1790
13 Arizona April 3, 1985 196
14 Tennessee May 28, 1985 196
15 Oklahoma July 1, 1985 196
16 New Mexico February 14, 1986 197
17 Indiana February 24, 1986 197
18 Utah February 25, 1986 197
19 Arkansas March 13, 1987 198
20 Montana March 17, 1987 198
21 Connecticut May 13, 1987 198
22 Wisconsin July 15, 1987 198
23 Georgia February 2, 1988 199
24 West Virginia March 10, 1988 199
25 Louisiana July 7, 1988 199
26 Iowa February 9, 1989 199
27 Idaho March 23, 1989 199
28 Nevada April 26, 1989 199
29 Alaska May 6, 1989 199
30 Oregon May 19, 1989 199
31 Minnesota May 22, 1989 199
32 Texas May 25, 1989 199
33 Kansas April 5, 1990 200
34 Florida May 31, 1990 200
35 North Dakota March 25, 1991 201
36 Alabama May 5, 1992 202
37 Missouri May 5, 1992 202
38 Michigan May 7, 1992 202
Amendment added to the Constitution: May 7, 1992
New Jersey May 7, 1992 202 State rejected the Amendment in 1789
Illinois May 12, 1992 202
California June 26, 1992 202
Rhode Island June 10, 1993 203 State rejected the Amendment in 1790
Hawaii April 29, 1994 204
Washington April 6, 1995 205
Never ratified the Amendment
Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, and Pennsylvania

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