Friday, November 12, 2010

Why we should repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Founding Fathers of our great Republic firmly believed in a true separation of powers between the Federal government, the citizens and the individual states. The issue regarding the role of the Senators became known as States Rights because according to the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. In recent years there has been an effort by several state legislatures to reemphasize State Sovereignty by passing laws acknowledging the intent and purpose of the 10th Amendment because of increasing encroachment of the Federal bureaucracy upon the authority of the states.

To accomplish the balance of power in the government, the original role of the Senators was to represent the interests of the state governments and therefore be elected by the state legislatures. The separate but equal purpose of the Representatives was to be directly elected by the citizens and to represent their interests. There is a lengthy explanation of the events that led up to the passage of the 17th Amendment on Wikipedia.

The Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. The amendment supersedes Article I, § 3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution, under which Senators were elected by state legislatures. It also alters the procedure for filling vacancies in the Senate, to be consistent with the method of election. It was adopted on April 8, 1913.
The 17th Amendment reads as follows:
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
Todd Zywicki has written an excellent argument about why the 17th Amendment should be repealed on the National Review Online web site posted on Nov. 15, 2010. His opening paragraphs begin with this:
Joe Miller, Alaska’s Republican nominee for the United States Senate, recently expressed support for an idea that is rapidly gaining steam in Tea Party circles: the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. Miller subsequently backtracked from his statement, but he shouldn’t have: Repealing the Seventeenth Amendment would go a long way toward restoring federalism and frustrating special-interest influence over Washington.

Ratified in 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment replaced the election of U.S. senators by state legislators with the current system of direct election by the people. By securing the Seventeenth Amendment’s ratification, progressives dealt a blow to the Framers’ vision of the Constitution from which we have yet to recover.
And ends with this conclusion:
Under the original arrangement, senators had strong incentives to protect federalism. They recognized that their reelection depended on pleasing state legislators who preferred that power be kept close to home. Whereas House members were considered representatives of the people, senators were considered ambassadors of their state governments to the federal government and, like national ambassadors to foreign countries, were subject to instruction by the parties they represented (although not to recall if they refused to follow instructions). And they tended to act accordingly, ceding to the national government only the power necessary to perform its enumerated functions, such as fighting wars and building interstate infrastructure. Moreover, when the federal government expanded to address a crisis (such as war), it quickly retreated to its intended modest level after the crisis had passed. Today, as historian Robert Higgs has observed, federal expansion creates a “ratchet effect.”
A story appeared today in the Kentucky Enquirer written by Amanda Van Benschoten, the Kentucky political reporter for the Kentucky and Cincinnati Enquirer on this subject says the idea of repeal has the backing of Kentucky Senate President David Williams.
In a speech today to the University of Kentucky Law School Federalist Society, Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, called himself a “tea partier” and called for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of U.S. Senators. Prior to the 17th Amendment, senators were appointed by state legislatures. Some members of the tea party movement have called for the repeal of that and other Constitutional amendments.

Repeal of the 17th Amendment is a necessary first step to ending the explosive expansion of the federal bureaucracy and the destruction of our freedoms and liberty in our Constitutional Republic.

1 comment:

  1. Someone else seems to agree with you. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, as quoted on Fox News:

    Scalia called the writing of the Constitution "providential," and the birth of political science.

    "There's very little that I would change," he said. "I would change it back to what they wrote, in some respects. The 17th Amendment has changed things enormously."

    That amendment allowed for U.S. Senators to be elected by the people, rather than by individual state legislatures.

    "We changed that in a burst of progressivism in 1913, and you can trace the decline of so-called states' rights throughout the rest of the 20th century. So, don't mess with the Constitution."

    Progressivism is defined as being further to the left than liberalism.


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