Three House Republicans filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after she enforced a mask mandate against them. The three—Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky.; Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.; and Ralph Norman, R-S.C.—had fines deducted from their salaries after refusing to wear masks on the House floor.
That amendment (sent to the states with the original Bill of Rights in 1789, but was not ratified until 1992) reads: “No law, varying the compensation for services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.”
The plaintiffs argue that the mask rule violates the amendment because deducting a fine from their salaries varies their compensation downward.
Is their claim a winner? Almost certainly not.
As a new paper I cowrote with Heritage Foundation colleague Paul J. Larkin Jr. explains, the 27th Amendment’s reach is not nearly as broad as the plaintiffs claim. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
For one thing, the amendment applies only to “laws.” In that context, “laws” are only bills that have passed both houses of Congress and have been signed by the president or which Congress passes by supermajority following a presidential veto. House rules do not apply.
A clever lawyer might respond by pointing to the First Amendment, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, [etc.],” and note that the Supreme Court has interpreted the word “law” in that context to broadly encompass any government action. Why doesn’t the same meaning apply to the 27th Amendment?
For two reasons. First, the text and history of the 27th Amendment foreclose that expansive definition. The amendment does not exist in isolation. Rather, it amended the ascertainment clause, which says: “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.”
The word “law” in that clause can only mean a bill passed by both houses and signed by the president, because that clause is concerned simply with the legislative mechanics of paying members of Congress. Who has the power of the purse? Congress. How does Congress exercise that power? By passing bills.
The word “law” in the 27th Amendment has the same meaning because the amendment sets conditions on bills passed pursuant to the ascertainment clause.
The second reason that the expansive First Amendment definition of “law” doesn’t apply to the 27th Amendment is because the two have totally different purposes. The former protects individual rights; the latter sets conditions on a particular legislative procedure.
The moral of the story is that when the 27th Amendment refers to “laws,” it means only laws in the technical sense. House rules don’t count because they aren’t passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.
There’s another reason the plaintiffs’ case will likely fail. The House rules don’t “vary compensation.”
As with “law,” the meaning of “varying compensation” is revealed when we look at the amendment’s relationship to the ascertainment clause. Because the 27th Amendment modifies that clause, what it means by “varying compensation” is changing the terms of a previous compensation law.
So, to sum up, the 27th Amendment applies only to laws that change the terms of previous compensation laws.
The House rules don’t change the terms of a previous compensation law any more than getting a parking ticket changes the terms of your paycheck.
The plaintiffs’ 27th Amendment claim appears doomed, but we can forgive them for trying it. Before our paper came along, nobody had spent any time trying to figure out what the 27th Amendment means and how it should be applied.
What’s more, in past lawsuits over the amendment, parties have made similar claims to the ones Massie, Greene, and Norman make here, and the courts either dismissed them on procedural grounds or did not interpret the amendment with the sort of depth and clarity that it deserves.
Although the plaintiffs’ claim is likely a dud, for those of us who love thinking about the Constitution, it’s a delightful opportunity to ponder a part of it that almost never appears in headlines.
Article by GianCarlo Canaparo cross-posted from Daily Signal.
American Patriots Uniting to Fight Tyranny from, Well, Everywhere
We’re building a new conservative news network. Based on responses from fellow patriots, we’re heading in the right direction.
It may be hard to believe based on what we’re seeing around the nation today, but there are many reasons to be hopeful. First and foremost, the false narrative that most of America hates traditional values or the foundations of our nation are finally being proven false. Despite the best efforts of globalists and Neo-Marxists, patriotic Americans are starting to unify in droves. Meanwhile, Joe Biden can barely muster a half-filled auditorium to deliver his message to the scant few watching CNN and the paid shills in the “crowd.”
The “silent majority” that drove Donald Trump to victory in 2016 and 2020 (yes, he won by a landslide but was robbed along with the American people) is finally starting to realize we cannot stay silent any longer. We used to win with our votes, but those are being stolen. We used to win with truth, but the radical left and their agents in mainstream media, Big Tech, and academia are building a post-truth society to drown out reality. Today, we are waking up to the realization that only through direct action and fearlessly spreading the truth can we overcome the nefarious forces working against us.
We are proud to be working our way up to the tip of the conservative media spear. Our network is growing. We’re establishing strong partnerships with like-minded news outlets and courageous journalists. Even as Big Tech suppresses us, the honest messages they’re trying to quash are finding their way to the eyes and ears of patriots across the nation. With the help of new content partners like The Epoch Times and The Liberty Daily, we’re starting to see a real impact.
Our network is currently comprised of nine sites:
- NOQ Report
- Conservative Playlist
- Truth. Based. Media.
- Freedom First Network
- Based Underground
- Uncanceled News
- American Conservative Movement
- Conservative Playbook
- Our Gold Guy
Some of our content is spread across all of these sites. Other pieces of content are unique. We write most of what we post but we also draw from those willing to allow us to share their quality articles, videos, and podcasts. We collect the best content from fellow conservative sites that give us permission to republish them. We’re not ego-driven; I’d much rather post a properly attributed story written by experts like Dr. Joseph Mercola or Natural News than rewrite it like so many outlets like to do. We’re not here to take credit. We’re here to spread the truth.
The slow and steady reopening of America is revealing there was a lot more economic hardship brought about from the Covd-19 lockdowns than most realize. While we continue to hope advertising dollars on the sites go up, it’s simply not enough to do things the right way. We are currently experiencing a gap between revenue and expenses that cannot be overcome by click-ads and MyPillow promos alone (promo code “NOQ” by the way).
To overcome our revenue gap and keep these sites running, our needs fluctuate between $2200-$7800 per month. May, 2021, for example, was amazing and we almost broke even. June, revenue was sluggish at best and we had to make up a big difference out of our pockets. But we’re not just trying to get out of the red. If and when we start getting enough contributions to expand, we will do just that. Very few get into journalism to try to get rich and we’re definitely not among those who do. Our success is driven by spreading the truth, profitable or not.
The best way you can help us grow and continue to bring proper news and opinions to the people is by donating. We appreciate everything, whether a dollar or $10,000. Anything brings us closer to a point of stability when we can hire writers, editors, and support staff to make the America First message louder. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal or Bitcoin as well. Bitcoin: 3A1ELVhGgrwrypwTJhPwnaTVGmuqyQrMB8
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Thank you and God Bless,
Yes, We Need Your Help
I hate being “that guy” who asks people to donate because I think our conservative news network is so crucial, but here I am…
When I left my cushy corporate job in 2017, I did so knowing that my family would have to make sacrifices. But I couldn’t continue to watch the nation slip into oblivion and was inspired by President Trump’s willingness to fight the good fight even at his own personal expense. What I didn’t realize then is that conservative media would be so heavily attacked, canceled, and defunded that the sacrifices would be extreme.
Many in this nation are struggling right now even though we weren’t struggling just a few years ago. I’m not alone. But I wake up every morning and operate the sites we’ve been able to build because there’s really no other choice. I refuse to be beholden to Big Tech like so many other conservative news outlets, which is why you won’t see Google ads here. With that said, it’s often challenging to pay the bills and it’s even harder to expand so we can get the America First message out to a wider audience.
The economic downturn has forced me to make a plea for help. Between cancel culture, lockdowns, and diminishing ad revenue, we need financial assistance in order to continue to spread the truth. We ask all who have the means, please donate through our new GiveSendGo. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to expand our reach so the truth can get to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
We currently operate:
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- Five other conservative news sites
I would even be willing to entertain investments and partnerships at this stage. I’ve turned them down in the past because editorial purity is extremely important. I’ll turn them down again if anyone wants us to start supporting RINOs or avoid “taboo” topics like voter fraud, vaccines, or transgender supremacy. But I’d talk to fellow America First patriots who want to help any (or all) of our 10 news sites. Hit me up at jdrucker (at) substack (dot) com if you’re interested.
For those who have the means and just want to help keep the mission of spreading a conservative, Christian message to the nation, please consider a generous donation.