Idaho Gov. Butch Otter declared during a political debate today that he doesn’t favor repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - though he’s been sharply critical of the amendment for the past year, including in his keynote speech at a Tea Party rally in Spokane in April.
The amendment shifted selection of U.S. senators from state Legislatures to a vote of the people, and repealing it is a plank in Idaho’s Republican Party platform.
The governor’s comments came as he and Democratic challenger Keith Allred sparred over everything from education cuts to wilderness to whether Idaho should investigate its state Tax Commission for alleged special deals to influential taxpayers.
Asked directly about the 17th Amendment during a debate before an audience of more than 400 at the Boise City Club, Otter said, “I want Idahoans to elect our U.S. senators.”
He added, “I have said time and time again, and I’ll say again, my focus is on the 10th Amendment. I do not believe you’re going to repeal the 17th Amendment, and have spent no time on repealing the 17th Amendment. That was a decision, and a very populist decision that was made in the early 20th Century, and I believe that decision is one that is going to stand no matter who wants the 17th Amendment repealed.”
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Comment: The 17th Amendment subdued the 10th Amendment almost as soon as it was passed. With the passage of the 16th Amendment in the same year, 1913, Congress had almost unbridled power (some would say they do in fact have unbridled power), and together both amendments removed the state governments from the federal government. No longer did you have the state in its role of "restrainer" to the federal power because the founders put no other mechanism in the US Constitution to accomplish this crucial action.
What has taken place since 1913 and increased after World War II has been that each popularly elected senator acts upon their own accord, which has furthered federal government's ability to exercise complete authority over every aspect of state life. It was at that point in which the governor became a "territorial administrator" for the federal government rather than a peer to the president, and the senator being the federal overseer.
This is something Otter fails to understand; you can't have the 10th Amendment without state representation in Congress. You can't be a real governor until you have your "ambassador" back in the federal government and restore the states rightful place within the federal system.
No folks, we will never restore the 10th Amendment until the 17th is repealed.