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    • This is the only example in all of USA history of an Amendment taking longer than four years. It is viewed by scholars as more of an anomaly than a precedent. In fact, SCOTUS in 1939 had indicated that an amendment could not linger around unratified for centuries. The fact is that if this amendment had been proposed any time in the recent past, the current consistent practice has been to attach a seven year time limit to the law proposing the Amendment. This was not the practice in 1789 at the time of the first congress.

      This amendment was proposed at the same time as the first ten ratified amendments. There were a total of twelve amendments proposed. Ten of these were ratified and were later called "The Bill of Rights. This would have been one of "The Bill of Rights" if it had been ratified at that time.

      After 1792, only two newer states had ratified it until 1983. The story of why and how it was ratified is in my opinion, very amusing.

      Here is a link to a PDF which discusses the history of this amendment and why there was opposition to it in the 1700s. If you want to skip all the back history and get to the events that started in 1983, skip down to the page numbered 536 (this PDF is an excerpt from a larger publication) and look for the section with the heading "IV. Resurrection".

      Below is an article from the New York Times in 1992. As you will see if you read the article, there was at first questions as to whether this ratification was legitimate because of a 1939 SCOTUS decision.

      After this article was written seven more states ratified it, including two which had previously rejected ratifying back in the 1700s.

    • He concluded that the 1789 amendment was still validly before the states principally because, unlike most recent proposed amendments, it has no internal time limit. Intrigued, he wrote a paper reporting and analyzing his discovery and urg- ing that the amendment be adopted. But Watson received only a "C" from his instructor, who told him that the amendment was a dead letter and never would become part of the Constitution.

      Despite the cold reception his paper received, Watson began and pursued a solitary, self-financed quest to revive the compensation amendment, encouraging state legislators throughout the United States to work for its ratification.


      I’ll finish up reading this and the other readings tonight and then respond.

      Brilliant shares!

    • Up way past my bedtime, however, that pdf of Watson’s quixotic quest for ratification was as good as any novel.

      I was completely unaware of the 27th amendment or that it was ratified in 1992 or that two states changed their vote from the 1700s. The fact that the amendment concerned delaying pay raises for Congress was an incentive for state legislators to pander to their constituents by passing it. And I think that’s an inherent danger in providing an overly long time frame for ratification. Thank you for expanding my perspective on this.

      I don’t know how well you remember the bicentennial of the US Constitution but I remember that some reckless congressmen at the time were clamoring for a Constitutional Convention as part of the celebrations.

      Scary to think if it had happened.

    • I am far from a constitutional expert or even a novice at best but I do have a problem with putting too much power into the hands of the courts whether balance goes to the left or right. The power of referendum taking issues directly to the people through amendments is a necessary component in my view to keep the democratic in the republic.

      As far as time limits I have never even thought of this so this is a teachable moment for me. But I don't see how you would want to keep a ratification window open indefinitely. People have a chance to vote and at some point the window needs to close or really want is the point.

      Another point on limits is term limits. I believe we should have 2 - 4 year terms for senate and the house. If it is good enough for the president it should be good enough for congress. I know all the arguments but 8 years will give them plenty of time to figure out the job. We would obviously need an amendment for this but I just don't see the necessity for a career politician in the same role. I know the founding fathers had their reasons but if they could have had the luxury of a looking glass into contemporary society they may have had a change of heart.

      And while we are at it let's throw in another amendment for campaign finance reform taking money out of election cycles completely. Create media slots and media services for TV, Radio, Newspaper, Web ads, and Social to allow candidates to run their messaging. (Same slots and level of services for all candidates) The government could provide tax breaks for the services or even subsidies.. Candidates would then use these services and slots to explain their platform. Everything else is door to door or through volunteer activities. I know this is wishful thinking but money should be taken out of the electioneering process, period. Candidates utilizing the fixed resources most effectively with the best messaging wins the better exposure. It will still be flawed but I believe it would have to be better than the mess we currently have.