Debunking the 28th Amendment Myth

If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. A proposal for the 28th amendment has been making its way around the internet for the past 10 years and is still being promoted. The proposed law states, “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.” The problem with this proposed law is that there are many rumors about it that are false and/or outdated, while some are true.

One of the rumors is children of congress members do not have to pay back student loans. This statement is not true. Neither are the statements that government employees do not have to pay into social security, and whether or not members of Congress can retire after one term with full pay. The main argument is the statement that Members of Congress are exempt from prosecution for sexual harassment. This is highly inaccurate.

“The passage of Public Law 104-1 (the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, also known as CAA) made a variety of laws related to civil rights and workplace regulations applicable to the legislative branch of the federal government. Section 1311(a) of the CAA specifically prohibits sexual harassment (as well as harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin).” The Congress Accountability Act was passed in 1995 and controls the top grievance stated by those who support the 28th proposal.

US History teacher Marc Fromm said, “regardless of the legitimacy of the proposed 28th amendment, anything that can hold a citizen accountable for their actions is a great idea.”

There are pros to the argument as well. The 28th Amendment would advance the idea that a law can be passed by the people without the approval of Congress. This proposal was written with a sense of pride in citizenship.

James Madison stated in federalist No. 57, "If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer, the genius of the whole system, the nature of just and constitutional laws, and above all the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it." In simpler terms, the only thing stopping congress from controlling everything, is the will of the American people.

US History teacher Patricia Lackey said, “They [congress] should be required to follow any law that we follow, it is just right.”

While there are pros and cons to this argument, many have found passing the 28th Amendment unnecessary and a waste of time. People have sided without knowing all the facts, swept up in the idea that Congress would be held accountable for things that they are already held accountable for.

Images from Wikipedia and Creative Commons.

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