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Constitutional FAQ Answer #28

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Q28. "What exactly does the last amendment regarding representatives and senators pay mean?"

A. It basically boils down to this: The members of the House and Senate may give themselves a raise in pay if they want to, but it may not take effect until after another election year. The intent is that if the people do not like the raise that they have given themselves, they can use that as an issue in the voting and decide that they don't want their Representative or Senator in office any longer. The amendment, unfortunately, has been severely limited by the U.S. courts, because of a legal technicality called "standing." No U.S. tax payer, or group of tax payers, has standing to bring a 27th Amendment suit over pay increases because no one tax payer is particularly harmed by such a raise; nor can a member of Congress bring suit. A case was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in October 2001, but the Court refused to hear the case.

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