congress compensation, twenty-seventh amendment, ratification, history


No provision of the United States Constitution has a more drawn-out, tortured history than the Twenty-seventh Amendment, which was ratified more than two centuries after Representative James Madison introduced it in the First Congress. In this Article; Professor Bernstein traces the Amendment's origins to the legislative political culture of the late eighteenth century, as influenced by the controversy over ratifying the Constitution. He then examines the perennial controversies over congressional compensation in American historiy elucidating how in the 1980s and 1990s public anger at Congress reached critical mass sufficient to propel the 1789 compensation amendment into the Constitution. Finally, this Article demonstrates that the adoption of the Amendment has consequences beyond its effects on congressional compensation-both for the unresolved issues of the Article V amending process and for the practice of "amendment politics."

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