When we look at the failure of the legislative and judicial branches of government, we must fully understand that though only few instances fully demonstrate the failure of the two branches, that the disease that those failures represent, and, that we can ‘expose,’ are demonstrative of the systemic failure of the government’s willingness to be responsible to both the Constitution and the People.
The 27th Amendment
Outpost of Freedom
December 10, 2002
“This Constitution … shall be the supreme Law of the Land…”
Constitution, Article VI, clause 2
“… Amendments… shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States…”
Constitution, Article V
“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”
Constitution, 27th Article in Amendment
“The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States….”
Constitution, Article I, Section 6, clause 1
James Madison acknowledged (in Federalist Papers #62) the necessity that all laws be written such that they could be understood by all men. There can be little doubt that the Constitution is absent the legalese, which has become so common in the enactments and resultant bureaucrat’s interpretations, of the current proliferation of legislation. Can we, however, accept that what is written in such language as can leave no doubt in any normal mind does not mean what it appears to say?
As we all know and which is self-evident, any law is based upon intent. The legislative intent is often referred to, in court, so as to determine what was intended by the legislation. It would leave little to law if any set of words were left to the best argument. Instead, we must, as a nation of law, rely upon what was intended rather than that which someone would have us believe the words to mean.
When James Madison (yes, the very same one who wrote FP 62) submitted this amendment into the assortment of twelve, from which ten were selected to form the Bill of Rights, surely, he concerned himself with the thought that many who aspire to power also aspire to greed.
27th Article in 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.”
The 27th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on May 7, 1992. Isn’t it interesting that the states that blew the dust off of and ratified a two-hundred year old proposed amendment to the Constitution saw the necessity to do so? I suppose that they knew, or finally realized, what Madison knew then.
Even more interesting is the insight the politicians in Washington had. According to Judges Newman and Rader, in a Dissenting Opinion in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [Williams, et al v. United States – 99-1572, 00-1254,-1255], “Congress knew that ratification was imminent and that the amendment would prevent COLA [Cost of Living Allowance – 101 P.L. 194, 103 Stat. 1716, Title XI (2001)] provisions from taking effect during future congressional terms in which they became effective.” They, therefore, enacted a 25% pay raise and annual COLA raises before the Amendment could be ratified. You see, it is clear, at least in the eyes of these two judges, and, probably, the entire court, that there was intent to circumvent the upcoming ratification of the 27th Amendment.
The case, by the way, was decided that there was nobody with standing to bring the enforcement of the 27th Amendment before the court – including a member of Congress. The initial action was brought by a taxpayer, a state Senator who had voted to ratify and a Congressman. After the first appeal, only the Congressman was considered to have standing to bring suit. The final appeal left even him without standing. This makes it easy to understand why the COLA enactment also included federal judges. They didn’t want their COLA to be questioned along with that of Congress. So, we have a Statute which appears to be in conflict with a Constitutional Amendment, but, nobody can bring the matter before the Supreme Court.
Now, many other government employees are also covered by the COLA enactment. Among them, the Government Printing Office, in their ‘publication’ on the 27th Amendment, they say, “Now that the provision is apparently a part of the Constitution, it will likely play a minor role. What it commands was already statutorily prescribed…”
So, what we have had the government (administrative, legislative and judicial branches) say to us is that a Cost of Living raise is not a raise in pay; that if it were, nobody could challenge, in court, the law that preceded the Amendment – even though in conflict; and, that Congress, unless they vote down (not voted down seven of the last twelve years) their annual raise, they will receive it, even though in obvious violation of the intent of the Amendment — an increase in compensation.
Even more interesting is the fact that changes in the cost of living are a result, in part, at least, of the ineptness of Congress in managing the country. It is also a result of their violation of another provision of the Constitution (Article I, Section 10, clause 1) which requires that the state may not “make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” Since we are no longer even allowed to own gold and silver to pay debts, we are subject to inflation which is a result of, and common to, any form of fiat currency (Federal Reserve Notes). The inflation, which is a result of disobedience of the Constitution, has resulted in the necessity to even consider Cost of Living as a factor in maintaining one’s purchasing power. They (Congress) and their employees are assured, at our expense, of not having their purchasing power diminished. Unfortunately, in our sustaining their coffers, we don’t have the means to offset inflation – resulting in a diminishing of our purchasing power.
Have you given your consent?
Or, have you been divested by the government?
For a list of states that ratified the 27th Amendment, go to A table of the dates of ratification of the Constitution and various amendments and pay particular attention to New Jersey and Michigan.