Sunday, April 4, 2010

Is it Time to Repeal the 17th Amendment?

The 17th amendment to the constitution states that United States Senators will be elected by a vote of the people in the states. What else would we do? Well prior to the 17th amendment Senators were chosen by state legislators to represent the state at the federal level. They had control over the U.S. Senator in that they would even tell them how they were expected to vote on various bills.

Originally the people of the states would vote for their U.S. House representatives every 2 years, and the state legislators would appoint a U.S. Senator every 6 years. This gave the people representation in the government, but also allowed the state, as a state, to be represented.

In 1835 8 U.S. Senators were forced by their states to resign from their posts after not following the states will in their voting regarding President Andrew Jackson's war against the Bank of the United States. So you can see that consequences to Senators under this system are swift and severe. Contrast that with today where U.S. Senators only face voters every 6th year.

The 17th amendment was ratified in 1912. It took more than 85 years to become law since the first time it was introduced.

5 comments:

Mookie said...

Wel, given the nature of politics these days, since we have politicians instead of statesmen...
would it really make much of a difference?

I mean look at Stupak on the healthcare bill....wanted stronger language on keeping federal funds out of the abortion pool...settled for an executive order that in the end means nothing to the bill that Stupak ended up voting for.

All In said...

Well, That depends on the citizens/legislature of Michigan. If they disapproved of his vote they could remove him from office. Under the "old" way of doing things senators were immediately held responsible for their actions on the hill.

Mookie said...

well the old ways are the old ways...what I'm getting at is what if both levels of state and feds are in cahoots despite what the populace may have to say on the issue....then it would end up pointless to repeal the 17th ammendment.

All In said...

If that were the case you would be correct. Currently there are 10 Republican Senators from Blue states, 13 Democrat senators from Red states. I don't care which party that would favor. But it is obvious that those states currently effected would likely require their senators to vote differently than they do currently.

scotterb said...

Germany still chooses the members of the upper house (Bundesrat) this way (through state governments). That does impact elections (state elections aren't just about state politics, but can reflect national trends), but overall I think the German system does protect states from the federal government in a way that the US system does not. So I say yeah, repeal the amendment.