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What Was the Topic of the 27th Amendment

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The 27th Amendment is the most recent amendment to the Constitution, and its existence today can be traced to a college student who proposed the idea in a term paper and was given a C by his professor for the idea. No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened, the 27th Amendment reads, as approved in 1992.

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It is important to note here that the “precedent” that was set when Congress “approved” of the unusual process by which the Twenty-Seventh Amendment was ratified meets not only the textual requirements of Article V; it also met the structural argument about the need for a “magic moment” when there is a popular national consensus of super-majority proportions. Congress on May 20, 1992 voted by a unanimous vote of the Senate and by a vote of 414 to 3 in favor of “accepting” the Twenty-Seventh Amendment as having been validly approved. Forty-six out of fifty states ratified the Amendment, and no state that had once ratified the Amendment tried to “unratify” it. Both the textual and the structural concerns that underlie Article V had been satisfied. There was an Article V consensus in 1992 to ratify this most unusual amendment. It goes without saying that there would NOT be such a national supermajority consensus for many other “dead” constitutional amendments that have been ratified by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress and sent to the states for ratification. In the unimaginable situation in which a state might try to ratify the Corwin Amendment constitutionalizing the right to own slaves, Congress would immediately rescind its approval of the Amendment as would most of the states, which had ratified it. It is thus important to note that the case of the 202 year-long ratification process of the Twenty-Seventh Amendment is really sui generis: It deals with a situation, which is very unlikely ever to rise again.

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A constitutional amendment is a revision or the formal change of the contents of the written constitution of a state or nation. However, for these amendments to be implemented, many states or countries, make demands that the amendments should not be employed until certain conditions are met. The changes proceed through a specially defined procedure; often, the required procedure is more stringent than that required for the making of ordinary legislation. Some of the special requirements that should be met before the amendments are done, include direct approval by the electorates during a referendum, a unanimous agreement among the superior majority of the legislature, or a combination of two or more of the varied procedures. In the case where the amendments are to be imposed through the involvement of a referendum, the jurisdiction of popular initiative may be a requirement (Patterson, 2009).

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In sum, several other would-be amendments have been proposed since 1992, but to date, the 27th remains still remains the most recent addition to the Constitution. Gregory Watson, meanwhile, has continued to work in the political field. Along with serving on the staff of several Texas lawmakers, he spearheaded a 1995 campaign to persuade the state of Mississippi to belatedly ratify the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Watson also received some personal vindication regarding the college assignment that kicked off his quest to resurrect the 27th Amendment. In early 2017, following a request from his former professor, the University of Texas at Austin officially changed his term paper grade from a “C” to an “A.”

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Patterson, T. E. (2009). The American democracy. New York: McGraw-Hill.

U.S. Const. amend XIII ” Slavery and Involuntary Servitude”. (repealed1864).

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What Was the Topic of the 27th Amendment
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