A Proposed 28th Amendment That Says ‘Congress Will Make No Laws That Does Not Apply to Them’?
A forwarded-email-turned-social-media-post about a proposed “28th amendment” to the United States Constitution pops up periodically as a viral rumor. There are variations, but the gist of it goes something like this:
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 email then asks readers to forward the message, a demand that should always spur further fact-checking.
There is no official campaign for a 28th amendment beyond its being proposed in this forwarded email (or social media post.) Some versions of this rumor were lent credence by phony numbers, when they began circulating with the allegation that 35 states have filed sued against the government while proposing a “28th amendment.”
That number is not accurate. States had actually filed suit against the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, claiming at the time that the health care law was unconstitutional and violated the rights of individuals by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties, as articles from 2011 explained:
There have been at least 26 federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the health reform law. In the six biggest decisions, three panels of judges have supported the constitutionality of the law, and three have ruled against it — with one major appellate decision expected any day from an appeals court in Richmond, Va.
Both sides pledge to take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court, which may decide to take up the case as early as this fall.
The 11th Circuit Court sided with 26 states — mostly led by conservative governors and attorneys general — who are asking for the law to be blocked in its entirety. Their primary argument is that that forcing Americans to buy health insurance oversteps the bounds of the Commerce Clause in the Constitution, which allows the government to regulate economic activity. But the decision to forgo health insurance is not an economic activity and can’t be regulated, they say.
Somewhere along the line, the reportage about the ACA was folded in with this chain email, likely to lend it more weight and spread it farther. However, the two issues are not related. The viral posts and chain emails begin by claiming that members of Congress do not pay into Social Security. As we have previously reported, that is a rumor so outdated as to attain full “hoax” status.
The email also said that congressional members would exempt themselves from any proposed healthcare reform package. Members of Congress and most government full time workers already have a healthcare package. The proposed healthcare reform began with the purpose of offering healthcare for those not already covered.
For all these reasons, we rate this claim Not True.
- PBS NewsHour. "Americans Can’t Be Forced to Buy Insurance, 11th Circuit Rules."
- WJLA. "28th Amendment to the Constitution is a fallacy, Internet rumor."
- FactCheck.org. "Members of Congress Pay Social Security Taxes."
- NOLA.com. "Obama health care lawsuit now has 26 states participating, including Louisiana."