28th Amendment?

Summary: There has been talk about a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution for quite a while now, and on social media it varies between being a real amendment, and being a proposed amendment. The content of the amendment also varies, but for the most part the theme is the same, limiting Congress.

The Amendment

First of all, there is no 28th Amendment, the 27th Amendment, ratified in 1992, was the last Amendment passed. While there have been over 10,000 attempted amendments, with nearly 500 in the last decade alone, it’s unclear if this was ever one of them. This is one of the more common version of the “Amendment”, or “Proposed Amendment”:

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution
 
Article 1
A.        Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives;
B.        Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States .  
 
Article 2
 
1.        Term Limits
a. For the Legislative Branch 12 years only, one of the possible options below.
i. Two Six year Senate terms
ii. Six Two year House terms
iii. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms.
b. For the Executive Branch, two terms as President.
c. For the Supreme Court, one term of 20 years or less.
 
2. No Tenure / No Pension:
 
A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.
 
3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security:
 
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.
 
4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans.
 
5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
 
6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
 
7. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/18 .

There are a few various problems with these proposed ideas. Mostly the fact that most of these are already law of some sort, or that they are unnecessary.

Checking the Proposals

Article 1 of the Amendment

Article 1
A.        Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives;
B.        Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States .  

I’ll group these two together since they are essentially the same thing. As American Citizens, all members or congress are subject to American law just the same as any other citizen may be subject to it. However, not everyone is subject to the same laws. Some examples are handicap and veterans laws, if you aren’t handicapped or a veteran you aren’t affected by these laws.

There are however some laws that don’t affect Congress, such as OSHA laws and the Freedom of Information Act. Under OSHA the definition of employer doesn’t include the United States.

Constitutionally the only protection from the law given to Congress is the “Privilege from Arrest Clause”


The Senators and Representatives…shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same….


ARTICLE I, SECTION 6, CLAUSE 1

Article 2, Section 1

This part covers term limits. The president has had term limits since the ratification of the 22nd Amendment, but Congress and the Supreme Court have no limits. Congress is limited only by elections, but the Supreme Court is appointed for life. The purpose for this for the Supreme Court is supposed to be so that they were immune to influence, since they don’t have to worry about losing an election based on decisions they have made. It’s possible that not having to worry about elections could make them immune to repercussions of their decisions. As far as Congress goes they can be elected out of office, but more often than not they are re-elected over and over. Limiting the number of times they can be elected might make them less concerned about being re-elected again.

Article 2, Section 2

“No Tenure, No Pension. ” There is already no tenure in congress, so this is unnecessary. Pensions are just an added benefit, which they pay into, and only receive when they are older, or have been in office many years. Term limits would make a pension all but unneeded. The Constitution only requires congress be paid.

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.


ARTICLE I, SECTION 6, CLAUSE 1

Article 2, Section 3

“Social Security.” Congress has paid into Social Security since 1984, based on an amendment to the law passed in 1983.

Social Security Amendments of 1983

Article 2, Section 4

“Congress retirement.” Congress already purchases it’s own retirement plan through the Federal Employee Retirement System.

Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

Article 2, Section 5

“Congress Raises” Since the 1989 Ethics Reform Act, Congressional Raises have been linked to the Federal Cost of Living Adjustment that all federal employees receive with one difference. They don’t receive the raise, unless they vote to accept it. So they don’t vote themselves in raises.

Salaries of Members of Congress

Article 2, Section 6

“Congress healthcare” Congress uses the same healthcare system as all federal employees. It’s unclear what “same healthcare system as the American people” means, since healthcare is a private industry that varies a lot from person to person and company to company.

Article 2, Section 7

It’s completely unclear what this section is supposed to mean, and without clarification from whoever wrote this, it’s pointless to comment on it.

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