Home / General / The Seventeenth Amendment

The Seventeenth Amendment

Comments
/
/
/
551 Views

The conservative dream of repealing the Seventeenth Amendment will not go away. The idea that the people could have the direct election of senators seems utterly uncontroversial to 99.9 percent of Americans. But not to the people who want to strip tens of millions of health care, among many other things. For them, their ability to control state legislatures would guarantee a permanent Republican majority and truly install the New Gilded Age.

Say “hello” to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the corporate-funded project to impose a top-down right-wing agenda on the states. ALEC is considering whether to adopt a new piece of “model legislation” that proposes to do away with an elected Senate.

The idea of reversing 104 years of representative democracy and returning to the bad old days when senators were chosen via backroom deals between wealthy campaign donors, corporate lobbyists, and crooked legislators, is not new. The John Birch Society peddled the proposal decades ago. But with the rise of the “Tea Party” movement, the notion moved into the conservative mainstream.

Then–Texas Governor Rick Perry argued in 2012 that the direct election of senators “took the states out of the process.” Several Republican senators apparently agree, with Utah Senator Mike Lee referring to the 17th Amendment as “a mistake” and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake saying, “I think it’s better as it reinforces the notion of federalism to have senators appointed by state legislatures.” What was once a fringe fantasy is being taken ever more seriously by conservative strategists.

Last year, ALEC published an article by a so-called “subject matter expert” arguing that the popular election of senators is “disenfranchising the States.” The article made an old-school states’ rights argument for taking the power to choose senators away from the people and giving it to the politicians who sit in state legislatures.

ALEC has yet to formally embrace the theory, but last month it circulated a “draft resolution recommending constitutional amendment restoring election of u.s. senators to the legislatures of the sovereign states.” That resolution is among the items expected to be considered at this week’s annual meeting of the influential group.

It’s unlikely this would happen, simply because of the difficulty of getting a constitutional amendment ratified. ALEC controls a lot of states, but it doesn’t control 38 states to the extent of repealing one of the nation’s core political reforms. If this happens, so many democratic norms have been rolled back that we are barely recognizable. On the other hand, it is 2017 so all manners of horrors are on the table. And to be clear, the idea of a plutocrat paying cash to state legislators for a Senate seat is the ALEC ideal, not a problem.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • paulgottlieb

    Many of America’s largest corporations are member/sponsors of ALEC. Which means that they indirectly support voter disenfranchisement, open and concealed carry gun laws (at least for White people), defunding our public schools, crushing labor unions, and doing away with any financial or environmental regulation. Why don’t you find out if any of your favorite corporations are members? If they are, write to their CEO telling him what a disgrace that is. And publicize it! We should make membership in ALEC a badge of disgrace and dishonor. Make it an public embarrassment for every CEO.

    • mds

      I’m a little worried that we may have passed the point of no return on disgrace, dishonor, and public embarrassment being a deterrent.

    • DAS

      Hopefully we’ll still be allowed to boycott if need be …

    • BeatnikBob

      I’m pretty sure a few giant corporations have split with ALEC, after some bad press a couple years ago. Coke seems to spring to mind, but no more.

      • paulgottlieb

        I believe you’re right, but that doesn’t mean we should relax the pressure on the rest. We should make membership in ALEC about as popular as membership in the Klu Klux Klan

  • mattmcirvin

    I’m pretty sure conservative friends of mine were floating this idea long before 2012. It’s one of their movement hobbyhorses going back a ways.

    • Erik Loomis

      Yeah, this isn’t new.

    • Jean-Michel

      John Wayne complained about popular election of senators in his notorious Playboy interview, but that part’s been kinda forgotten since this was also the interview where he said black people shouldn’t be allowed to vote until they’ve been “educated to the point of responsibility.”

  • phalamir

    I’m always bemused about repealing the 17th. To get passed, said Amendment had to be approved by Congress and the state legislatures. That meant that the very people who were directly benefiting from the old system – state legislatures and Senators – voted to strip themselves of power. You know something is unworkable when the people getting all the filthy lucre are like “Yeah, this has to stop”.

  • elm

    In the German upper house, the landers are directly represented by the Governor casting the votes for the lander. If you want to have direct representation of states, this strikes me as a better approach (the governors are directly elected, after all) although I prefer allowing voters to choose different people for the Senate and state house if they wish.

    Also, votes in the German senate are somewhat proportional, with each Lander casting their votes as a bloc and the larger lander have more votes. If we got that with repeal of the 17th, it would be a worthwhile tradeoff, but, of course, that’s the one thing you can’t get with an amendment.

    • Tracy Lightcap

      I always told my students that when we got our Germans together to write the Basic Law, we should have given them a copy of our Constitution and said, “Here. Fix this while you’re at it.” We’d be a lot better off in terms of governing the country.

      One detail. It is true that de jure the Land governors vote in the Bundesrat. In fact, what happens is that, when a measure involving their vote (a good amount of German law doesn’t need to be ratified by the upper house) is considered, the governors send the relevant minister(s) from their cabinet to discuss the proposal and vote on it in their place. Soooooo … the people considering a proposed law are people who, you know, actually know something about it and how it’ll work in their state. This is so sane it’s breathtaking.

      • Joe Paulson

        The Constitution of the Confederate States of American had an interesting provision, never used I believe, stating:

        But Congress may, by law, grant to the principal officer in each of the Executive Departments a seat upon the floor of either House, with the privilege of discussing any measures appertaining to his department.

        Anyway, I do think people in the Congress considering a proposed law are people who often actually know something about it and how it would work in their states, being elected to represent said states and often serving in government in said states etc. before being elected. They also regularly have hearings etc. with testimony etc.

        But, that wrinkle sounds interesting.

        • Bruce Rogie

          Confederate State Constitution? And why would we want to adopt something traitors adopted? And on the actual side, each executive department head often testifies before congressional committees now, so what is the “interesting wrinkle.”?

          • Joe Paulson

            The specific practice in Germany that was cited, which included “vote on it in their place,” which is not present in this country.

            As to traitors, the U.S. started on treason. And, if some provision in the document put out by traitors might be useful (it is not like the provision is somehow pro-slavery or something), it is spiting yourself for that reason alone not to accept it.

        • Lurker

          You can get this feature quite easily in a parliamentary system. There, the ministers are usually members of the Parliament, and even if they are not, they usually have a right to attend the plenary sessions.

          The actual work of the Parliament happens in committees, though. At least in Finland, all sessions of committees are behind closed doors so that actual political decision-making can take the pls.of public posturing. It is customary that the committees hear the civil.servants who.have prepared the original government and also representatives of different ministries, authorities and stakeholder groups. Getting heard by a committee is power. (In most continental systems, laws originating from parliamentary bills are rare but the bills are drafted by departments and then sent to the Parliament by the government.)

          • Joe Paulson

            “actual political decision-making can take the pls.of public posturing”

            Public posturing is part of open government. Anyway, giving all the players involved, there is going to be some posturing.

    • Hogan

      Land is the singular; Länder is the plural.

      (German pedantry–it’s the best kind of pedantry.)

      • Caepan

        Well… the most accurate, anyways.

  • mds

    If this happens, so many democratic norms have been rolled back that we are barely recognizable.

    Indeed. See also “Oh, noes! A right-wing-dominated constitutional convention that ignores the text of Article V!” If we’re at the point where they control that many states sufficiently securely, and they feel free to disregard the 3/4 requirement in order to completely rewrite the whole thing, America is already dead.

    • dn

      Beaten to the punch. And I’m absolutely certain that if that convention gets called, that this won’t be on the agenda. After all, conservatives never, ever lie or cheat.

  • David McWilliams

    “…restoring election of u.s. senators to the legislatures of the sovereign states”

    What the actual hell is a sovereign state?

    • Erik Loomis

      It’s basically a pre-Civil War conception of the states. I’m sure all these people would love to overturn the 13th-15th Amendments as well.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Especially the 13th. That’d solve your Black Lives Matter problems right there.

        (Silly reader, you think I am exaggerating for effect. You don’t know that these kind of discussions are happening now amongst the far right. The crazy ideas don’t start with posts on Breitbart … by the time the posts show up they’ve already gone through a lot of discussion.)

      • Solar System Wolf

        When those maps were circulating online showing that if only women voted the Democrat would win every time, a lot of mouthbreathers were talking about repealing the 19A as well. We “gave” you the right to vote, ladies — we can take it away!

      • Bruce Rogie

        Try pre-Constitution.

    • Joe Paulson

      An entity with the power to do various acts of government such as pass laws and so forth.

      In our system, we have a mixed system where some power is given to states, other to the federal governemnt. The states still as sovereign entities have powers something like Puerto Rico do not.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Indeed, the case I cited below deals exactly with that distinction between the states and Puerto Rico for purposes of deciding whether Puerto Rico was a “separate sovereign” for double jeopardy purposes.

        • Joe Paulson

          The term is tossed out there by some in dubious ways but like other things such as text and history, that shouldn’t stop us. The 17A is fine, it’s okay to require states to equally recognize marriage and do various other things. And, states are still in a certain respect sovereign.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Since my original post was presumably downvoted out of existence, the case I’m referring to is Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle, 136 S. Ct. 1863 (2016) (decided 7-2, with Kagan authoring the opinion).

    • hypersphericalcow

      IIRC, the “equal sovereign dignitude” of the States was Chief Justice Robert’s justification for kneecapping the expansion of Medicaid.

    • btfjd

      In the US we have what is called dual sovereignty. As a nation dealing with other nations, the US has all the rights and prerogatives of any other sovereign nation. Domestically, the federal government has a limited sovereignty. The Constitution confers certain enumerated powers on the federal government, and in those areas the federal government is supreme (examples include raising armies, printing money, etc.) The states retain their sovereignty in areas not conferred upon the federal government, such as marriage and family law, education, real property, etc.

      This is a vastly oversimplified picture, of course, and in practice the federal government gets involved in many state areas where constitutional issues are raised, such as marriage (Obergefell), and education, or where state prerogatives intersect with interstate commerce (think control over navigable waterways).

  • AMK

    Voter suppression just seems like a much more practical road to the same destination for them.

    But if the goal here is stroking donor fantasies for checks to ALEC, why not just propose re-instituting property qualifications for voting? “I pay X taxes, so I should have X votes!!” is how lots of these people bitch behind not-so-closed doors.

    • Aaron Morrow

      Being able to be vote in every locality one owns a home is a thing people talk about in public.

      • BeatnikBob

        Founding Fathers’ intentions! Originalism! Federalist Society! Jesus founded the US of A! On and on, ad nauseum.

  • DamnYankeesLGM

    If I remember right from the last time I did a deep(ish) dive on this issue, the 17th amendment repeal push is a classic example of “there used to be a serious problem, and we fixed it, and now its been so long that people have forgotten what the problem was and want to undo the fix without bothering to check history”.

    I believe that one of the reasons the 17th amendment passed (which seems weird because its a very strange thing to imagine both sitting Senators and state legislatures voting to undo the very mechanism which gave them their power), was that the structure in place before it was basically destroying local government. People weren’t stupid in the 19th century, and they knew that being a Senator was an important job. And so what ended up happening is that votes for state legislature just became a proxy vote for Senator. You’d vote for your state legislator based entirely on who they promised to vote for for the US Senate, and this one issue just entirely override all other concerns. It completely demolished the independent importance of state elections, which were waged and held not on the basis of state issues, but purely as a proxy for Senate appointments.

    State legislators hated this and so they voted to undo the system. And now, you have the same people ostensibly in favor of states rights agitating to *restore* this system which denuded the state legislatures. It’s just so shallow and stupid and craven.

    • rewenzo

      The other problem I think was that lots of times, states would get deadlocked and be unable to fill the seat at all, so states were going without representation in the Senate entirely.

      Picking a member of your party to be Senator is not like advancing a legislative goal, upon which fellow party members are usually in substantial concordance. It’s picking a particular person. Moreover, a lot of state legislatures are in recess for most their nominal term. If they can’t agree to a senator within a few weeks, there’s no senator.

    • Russell Arben Fox

      There is actually a non-crazy, non-conservative, decentralist democratic argument that can be made for repealing the 17th amendment, but before anyone ought to take it seriously, you have to address the dynamic which DamnYankees is correctly talking about here. And the problem of media centralization and thus the rhetorical dominance of Washington DC in regional and even local debates is even greater than it was a century ago, obviously, so there may be no solution besides working with the (anti-democratic, but not terribly anti-democratic) institution which we now have. Jacob Levy once observed that the 17th amendment was an interesting half-way measure; it allowed the legislative power of our upper chamber to endure, whereas similar upper chambers throughout the English-speaking world (the House of Lords most obviously), where no direct-election compromise was possible, were effective neutered during the same progressive push.

      • Justin Runia

        So close…

    • Just a Rube

      Yep.

      To take the most famous example of this, the Lincoln-Douglass debates were two Senate candidates trying to sway the elections to the state legislature to get them elected to the Senate.

  • King Goat

    I hate political elites, always undermining the People! Therefore, I propose political elites take over a major choice now left to the People!

  • rewenzo

    What would the appeal of this even be, to non-corporations? Like, what’s the “freedomlibertysovereigntyamericasomethingitude” argument in favor indirect elections?

    • DamnYankeesLGM

      Lots of people are anti-democratic by nature. “Tamping down the passions of the electorate” is a genuine good to a lot of conservatives.

    • nominal

      Theoretically, states rights. If the Senator does something that’s against the state’s interest they’re out.

  • Rob in CT

    The idea that the people could have the direct election of senators seems utterly uncontroversial to 99.9 percent of Americans

    Sadly, I’d expect this figure to drop to ~60% quickly if the right propaganda outfits started trumpeting the message that repealing the 17th is the way to defeat the perfidious liberals.

  • Joe Paulson

    The general implication seems to be that having people directly electing senators instead of electing those who choose them (probably bound to do so in some fashion — one should recall, e.g., that we didn’t have direct election when Lincoln and Douglas had those debates for a U.S. Senate seat but legislators were pledged for one or the other) caused the current federal administrative state or something. But, the people themselves — the people electing the state legislators in the first place — wanted it. This includes the people in state government. And, modern society itself required it.

    Federalism isn’t dead — some here probably want it more dead in fact. States have various powers and the people elect two senators in state-wide elections. I find the arguments, like many originalist and conservative arguments (overlapping for sure) very confused.

    • DamnYankeesLGM

      But, the people themselves — the people electing the state legislators in the first place — wanted it. This includes the people in state government. And, modern society itself required it.

      These people don’t care. They see this democratic impulse as a flaw, not a virtue.

      • Joe Paulson

        Yes, they speak of “states” as if land or some poetic entity was at issue here instead of actual people. “States” didn’t elect senators. People elected by people of the states did. The democratic impulse was mixed in there.

        Anyway, even without the 17A, there was a trend where the state legislature was merely a rubber stamp of separate public referendums like the Electoral College.

      • nick056

        I think all the hand-wringing about Democracy in Chains is pretty funny. Oh, this or that quote was truncated!

        Maybe. Sure. But libertarians obviously hate democracy, which is the point. They want to repeal the 17th amendment.

  • On the other hand, it is 2017 so all manners of horrors are on the table.

    Yes. To anyone who states the improbable is not possible, I have three words: Donald Fucking Trump.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Defending-Champion Cubs

  • Tracy Lightcap

    There’s one thing about this that the people pushing it don’t seem to realize.

    I – most unwillingly – did a lot of research on the Polk administration and the Mexican War for my first book. That meant getting a passing acquaintance with the Jacksonian era before and slightly after Polk. One of the things I found most surprising was how unimportant the Senate was. True, there were some Senators who made a big splash – Webster, Benton – but most of them were creatures of the state legislatures that elected them. The Senators themselves, with the exceptions mentioned, were usually second stringers sent up to do what the leaders of their legislatures wanted. They routinely resigned when offered a better political opportunity (running for governor, usually) back home. Example = Daniel Huger. Huger took over in the Senate when John C. Calhoun resigned to become Secretary of State for John Tyler. Two years later, Calhoun decided he would like to go back to the Senate. Huger was told by the South Carolina legislature to resign so they could appoint Calhoun again. He did it. Let me repeat that: he did it. And he wasn’t the only one. Further, when control of a state legislature shifted to the opposition the usual thing among Senators was that they would either suck up to the new leaders back home or resign on the spot.

    This wouldn’t happen as readily today, but anybody who thinks that we would get Solon clones in the Senate if state legislatures appointed them or that the leaders in those legislatures wouldn’t try and (probably) succeed in cracking the whip over the Senate is living in a fools paradise. Further, the effect this would have on the power of state governors is very hard to predict, but would probably be detrimental.

    The real upshot, however, would be to make the House the most powerful branch of Congress again, just as it was then. Today, the Senate has the mandate of an entire state’s population behind them and the people elected tend to be major honchos back home. Get rid of the 17th and that would all go to the wayside. That’s why I’m pretty sure that, barring a national constitutional convention, this particular idea has no future at all. The Senate would never vote for it, no matter who’s in control.

  • Marshall

    their ability to control state legislatures would guarantee a permanent Republican majority

    Indeed that describes the present situation, but “the ability to control state legislatures” is some Rethugagain superpower or something?? Whyever would you assume it is easier to direct the conversation at the USA level than within the various states, when the latter is about taking care of your friends whereas the former is about who has the best cash flow. In the long run, friends are better than money.

    It’s time to go back and work on the states, seems to me. Then let the 17th fall where it may.

  • Robert Massing

    Next up for repeal:
    13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

    • Why not the 16th as well? We are all Kansas now, Toto!

  • Mike in DC

    Either abolish the Senate outright, or reapportion the seats. The 10 largest states get 3 seats each, 10 smallest get 1 each, everyone else gets 2 apiece.

    • Mike in DC

      On further contemplation, abolish the Senate and devolve its duties to the House. Increase House membership to 1 member per 50-100k citizens. Reform the redistricting process, federalize and standardize elections, switch to publicly funded elections, and limit procedural veto gates to legislating via simple majorities.

  • nominal

    You know what should be a Democratic hobbyhorse? Expanding the House. America’s population has increased dramatically since the last time we expanded the House, and that exacerbates all of the misrepresentation problems of small, rural states.

    This should be a huge deal for us Democrats. If California had 20 more seats, and Wyoming only had it one, we’d be in a whole ‘nother world. We should at least TALK about it.

    • Rob in CT

      Yup.

    • I dunno – Democrats have *enough* trouble recruiting 435 folks willing to run for the House. (In fact, we’re rarely able to). Republicans don’t seem to have that problem as much.

      We wouldn’t get many more candidates if the number of seats suddenly tripled, possibly fewer as Representative would be a much less important job (tinier fish in a larger pond). I suspect the GOP still wouldn’t have any problems. I can easily imagine a system where the GOP has a constant 2/3 majority because there simply aren’t enough Democrats willing to run.

      • nominal

        I’m not sure what you’re taking about. The GOP barely has a majority. The Democrats don’t miss any seats for lack of candidates but only bc the seats are unwinnable – 70-80% incumbent majorities and so on. There’s no shortage of state legislators, mayors, DAs, celebrities, activists and businesswomen to run. None at all.

        If we add 40 seats to California, Oregon and Washington, and 3 seats to Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana, the democrats are drastically better off. The math don’t lie.

        • What I’m talking about is quite simple. You regularly hear complaints from activists that the Democratic party allows many Republican Congressmen to run unopposed, but this rarely happens in Democratic districts. And the reason for this is that those state legislators, mayors, DAs, etc. don’t want to run for Congress. We cannot recruit enough interested people to run a candidate in 435 districts. Period. Adding 40 seats in California, Oregon, and Washington means 40 more seats we don’t have any candidates for. Because increasing the number of seats doesn’t increase the number of available willing candidates.

          • NobodySpecial

            Unknown. How many candidates don’t run because of the insider effect? If a metropolis like Chicago had 40 seats available in the city limits, are you really supposing you can’t find 30 or so people willing to mount a challenge in a much smaller and contiguous district?

          • nominal

            That’s just silly. I don’t know what ‘activists’ you’re talking to but we Democrats put candidates in every even mildly competitive race. Short of places like Alab 1 and so on, that isn’t an issue.

            And if they’re complaining about that sort of stuff, that has zero relevance to expanding the house. We’ll always have districts with a 80% republican vote. We’ll always have trouble there. It’s a lot better for those 10 districts to be to be 2% of the districts instead of 5%.

            We’re taking about 200 more seats. No reasonable person think we can’t scrounge up candidates for competitive seats. thats just silly.

            • You’ve seriously never heard netroots activists complain about how Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz abandoned the Fifty State Strategy and “refused” to run candidates in Every. Single. House. District? And how the Republicans *do* run candidates in every district, even the ones with 80% Democratic votes? I hear it *at least* once a month. And the only falsehood is that it’s not really up to Pelosi and the DNC Chair. The truth is that Pelosi and DWS (and now Perez) simply can’t order folks to run. And there simply aren’t enough willing Democrats. There *do* seem to be plenty of willing Republicans (I live in one of those 80% Dem districts, and there is ALWAYS a Republican on the ballot, even though they don’t have a chance of winning).

              Most of the ‘expand the House” proposals I’ve seen propose expanding the House to well over 1000 seats, so that every state, even Wyoming, has multiple Representatives, and to make the Electoral College more proporrtional. That’s a *lot* of extra candidates.

              • nominal

                Again, they’re complaining about not finding people to be sacrificial lambs. There’s never a problem getting people for even longshot seats, if there’s at least a chance. It’s tough to get a no-chance candidate.

                Those 20 no-chance seats are there no matter what we do. But we’re better off if it’s 20/1000 instead of 20/435.

                Not sure why you’re having so much trouble with how the math works here.

                • It’s tough to get a no-chance candidate.
                  And yet, the Republicans have no trouble. Only the Democrats have trouble. And the only reason I can see for that is that Democrats simply do not like to run for the House, for whatever reason (probably because a Congressperson is a very small fish in a very large pond, and that is only exacerbated by a larger House).

                  We ran less than 400 candidates last year, and roughly half of them lost. There *might* be more interest if there were more seats available – but it would not increase in proportion to the number of seats. We *might* get 700 candidates if the number of seats were doubled – and maybe 450 of them would win (that’s assuming we would do *significantly* better than 50% due to more competitive seats and more guaranteed Dem seats.)

              • billcinsd

                Wasserman-Schulz refused to support already chosen candidates (before she was DNC head) in reasonably winnable (~R+5) districts against her terrorist-supporting Republican friends in Florida, when she was co-chair of the DCCCs Red-to-Blue initiative in 2008. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article24478039.html

                Also, to combine responses to the expansion issue, no district in California is larger than the single district in Montana. I believe this is true of the single district in South Dakota but I haven’t check this recently and there may be a CA district with over 800,000 residents. The average House seat in CA has fewer residents than North Dakota, with only Delaware and Wyoming having smaller House seats (of the at large states). CAs average district size is the 25th largest in the US. Rhode Island has the smallest average House seat size. To ensure every state has at least one representative and more proportionally distribute the seats a minimum of 550-600 seats depending on what you take as the populations of Wyoming and the US total. To have not too large of differences between any two districts. you would probably need 3x-5x (1500-2500) districts

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

                • And bluntly, that’s *vastly* larger than any legislature in the world except China’s. And China’s legislature doesn’t actually *do* anything; it meets two weeks a year to rubber-stamp the decisions of the Politburo.

  • NeonTrotsky

    It’s pretty amazing that the right takes a look at the structure and apportionment of the Senate and decides its not already tilted enough in their favor. The Senate is a pretty god damned undemocratic, unrepresentative institution that overweights tiny states, and has consistently stood in the way of progressive legislation, particularly on issues of race.

  • Matty

    The correct answer to this problem is to abolish the Senate.

    • Craigo

      I would support repealing the 17th if we also removed most of the Senate’s powers at the same time and rendered it an advisory body.

      • Matty

        Why leave it at all? At the risk of going all “be reasonable, demand the impossible,” the Senate is absurd and leaving it as an advisory body would be leaving a monarchist appendix in the republic.

        ETA: Thinking about the various reforms to the House of Lords, which basically still exists because removing it would be too republican

        • Joe Paulson

          I think leaving a popularly elected Senate, apportioned by population like James Madison et. al. wanted in the first place, to serve certain purposes (such as confirming nominations etc.), would be acceptable.

        • Craigo

          Because advisory bodies can actually be useful? Do you think that all upper houses are “monarchist appendices”?

          • McAllen

            Sure, but why would an advisory body of senators appointed by state legislatures be particularly useful?

          • Matty

            Basically, yeah. What does an advisory upper house get you that a properly apportioned lower house doesn’t?

            • Lurker

              You can get a pretty good advisory body from the lower than. We have, in Finland, the “Great Committee” of the Parliament, which is for many purposes the upper house. It mainly handles EU issues. When there is a pending EU law, our national government presents its negotiation stance to the Great Committee behind closed doors, and gets its approval. (The national governments vote in EU Council of Ministers just like German Länder in Bundesrat.)

              The Great Committee is elected by the Parliament itself, and usually includes the most experienced and powerful members of each party: 50 out of 200 of I remember correctly. You can’t get a better advisory committee in a democracy.

  • McAllen

    It’s unlikely this would happen, simply because of the difficulty of getting a constitutional amendment ratified. ALEC controls a lot of states, but it doesn’t control 38 states to the extent of repealing one of the nation’s core political reforms.

    On the other hand, I’m sure ALEC could find a few potential Supreme Court justices to argue that the Seventeenth Amendment actually says senators should be appointed by state legislatures.

  • zoomar2

    The idea that non property holding citizens could have the direct election or vote on any office or public issue seems utterly uncontroversial to 99.9 percent of Americans. But not to the people who want to strip tens of millions of health care, among many other things.

  • billcinsd

    the States rely on “authority originally belonging to them before admission to the Union

    What about those many states that were never sovereign entities before they were admitted to the Union?

It is main inner container footer text