Friday, November 26, 2010

That Dratted Seventeenth Amendment

That Dratted Seventeenth Amendment; Peter Robinson;

The other day, you'll recall, Scott Reusser announced that he was "torn" over repealing the Seventeenth Amendment, which weakened the role of the states in the federalist system.  Before the Amendment, the state legislatures chose U.S. senators.  The Amendment provided instead for the direct popular election of U.S. senators.  Most of us (by my rough count) came down on the side of repeal.
After reading all this, Ricochet fan and law professor Todd Zywicki dropped me a line, giving me two items--and both are so rich I thought I'd pass them right along.
For Todd's expert argument on behalf of repeal--read it, Scott Reusser, and you'll no longer feel torn--click here.
Todd's second item?  An article in the National Law Journal reporting on the nascent repeal movement.  The article lies behind a paywall, but herewith a few choice excerpts:
The long-forgotten 17th Amendment--the one that gave us direct election of senators--has suddenly moved to center stage in the new debate over constitutional first principles fostered by the Tea Party movement...
Zywicki said he was surprised at first when the Tea Party movement, with its populist orientation, embraced repeal of the 17th Amendment, which appears to be 'somewhat anti-democratic,' because it would take away popular election of senators.
But he agrees with the analysis that, if the 17th Amendment had never been adopted, the Senate--and Congress--would not be the institutions they are today. Instead of being elected the same way as House members, they would be much more strongly tied to the interests of their states. 'It's my firm belief that 'Obamacare' would not have happened,' Zywicki said, because it overrides state prerogatives in significant ways. Unfunded mandates would not have proliferated, he added. 'There has been more federal activity of all kinds, ' since the 17th Amendment came into being, Zywicki said...
[I]n the end even Zywicki, who has beat the drums for repealing the 17th Amendment for so long, thinks it's very unlikely to happen 'in my lifetime,' in part because it seems anti-democratic, and in part because the constitutional amendment process would require two thirds of the existing Senate to approve. New senators like Mike Lee [the Tea Party candidate, just elected to the U.S. Senate from Utah, who, like Todd Zywicki, opposes the 17th Amendment] offer a glimmer of hope, but even Lee in a postelection interview also said he did not envision repealing the amendment in his lifetime. Zywicki is 44, and Lee is 39.
Still.  We can dream, can't we?


Harold Thomas said...

We live in revolutionary times. The situation on the ground may change very rapidly and enable ideas that seem radical today (like repealing the 17th Amendment, or even states declaring independence) to become mainstream.

Brian, I appreciate your perseverance on a topic that strikes many of us as rather narrow for a blog -- yet you provide much fresh content!

Keep up the good fight! I have your back.

Brian said...

Thanks Harold. It's been up and down over the years but the blogging keeps me partially focused on the shenanigans in the US Senate.

Getting this repealed is a tough fight, but at least for now I hope we are waking people up to the origins of the US Constitution and the creation of Congress and the role the US Senate once had.

But even if the repeal did happen we would still need to make a modification and add a recall provision that was left out of the Constitution from the Articles of Confederation. That would put the states back into the Federal Government and restore the 10th Amendment.