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Meme Makes Up New Amendment


Quick Take

A meme circulating online falsely claims that there is a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that bars lawmakers from exempting themselves from having to comply with existing laws. There is no such amendment.


Full Story

There are 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but a meme circulating online has added another one.

In a script font on parchment background, the meme claims the “Amendment 28” says: “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.”

Above that, the meme says: “The 28th Amendment hasn’t been upheld in years.”

But, of course, there is no “28th Amendment.” What this meme purports to show as an amendment to the Constitution is actually adopted, verbatim, from a suggestion for a constitutional amendment included in an old chain email. The chain email had claimed, wrongly, that public officials were exempt from certain laws. We wrote about it when the email was circulating in 2010.

More recently, we wrote about a similar falsehood circulating on social media. Facebook posts in September claimed that President Donald Trump was pushing for a made-up piece of legislation that would have, in part, required all members of Congress to “abide by all laws they impose on the American people.” But, as we wrote, the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act requires members to follow more than a dozen civil rights, labor, and workplace safety laws that apply to private businesses.

Regardless, some lawmakers have proposed constitutional amendments that are similar to the meme circulating now. In 2013, for example, Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, introduced a resolution that would have made this amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress.”

Paul said that his proposed amendment was a response to the Affordable Care Act, which some Republicans misleadingly claimed at the time had provided a “special subsidy” for members of Congress and their staffs to purchase health insurance. We debunked that claim in 2013, around the same time that Paul introduced his amendment.

Paul’s proposed amendment died in committee, and failed again when he reintroduced it in the next Congress. Similar proposals in the House failed, too.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

The Constitution: Amendments 11-27. National Archives. Accessed 3 Dec 2019.

Jackson, Brooks. “Lawmaker Loopholes?” FactCheck.org. 29 Jan 2010.

Fichera, Angelo. “Posts Resurface Made-up ‘Congressional Reform’ Bill.” FactCheck.org. 23 Oct 2019.

Congressional Accountability Act of 1995. Office of Congressional Workplace Rights. 16 Nov 2016.