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Automatic Cost-Of-Living Increases Do Not Violate 27th Amendment


In Boehner v. Anderson, Rep. John Boehner and 27 other members of Congress, 108 defeated congressional candidates, and 14 other individuals and organizations challenge provisions of the Ethics Reform Act. The Act gave an immediate, onetime salary increase to members of Congress and, in subsequent years, an annual cost-of-living increase to their salaries and pensions. They argue that the automatic cost-of-living increases and the automatic raise every four years violates the 27th Amendment because both plans effectively grant a pay increase for legislators before a new congressional session begins. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia holds that Boehner has the legal right to challenge the law, but then rules against him. Because the cost-of-living increase takes effect after the election of new representatives, it does not violate the 27th Amendment. Since the four-year raise system had not yet taken effect, the court dismisses Boehner’s challenge.