Monday, June 21, 2010

Taking on theTalking Points 01: Repeal the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

In the GOP Senate debates I attended earlier in the year, there were two amendments to the U.S. Constitution that were often mentioned: A repeal of the 17th amendment and a proposed so-called "Balance Budget Amendment." Today, I'll be discussing the former.

The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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.

The biggest impact is the election of representatives to the United States Senate. Originally, they were appointed by the individual state legislatures. Now, they are elected by an electoral vote of the entire state which they represent. It also says that replacing vacant seats must also be done by elections, though governors are usually allowed to appoint temporary replacements, and they'll serve until the special election is held or the term runs out. Four states (Oklahoma, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Oregon) ban appointments by governors altogether.

I've heard repeal advocated on many conservative talk radio shows, often hearing about "states' rights" and "liberty." However, I disagree. What is more pro-liberty than direct elections? Maybe it worked in previous times. But now, the halls of state legislatures are filled with lobbyists and self-dealing insiders. And even if they weren't, the legislatures would be appointing them. Politicians would be appointing politicians.

Even though we might not be the smartest of all (after all, it seems that 100,000 of us think this guy might be an a-okay Senator), at least we'll only have ourselves to blame. I fully support the 17th Amendment. And even if I didn't, it's something we can put off to take care of other crises, such as the never ending War on Terror or the massive, unsustainable debt this country is taking on.

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