Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The 17th Amendment - "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.

I have mentioned this Amendment in two previous segments of this series in passing and now will look at it in an exhaustive view as well as the ramifications that the adoption of this Amendment has had on the nation and the original intent of the Framers.

The original wording of The Constitution concerning the Senate of The United States and those who served in this Chamber of the Congress is as follows.

Article I, Section 3 - "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature, thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote."

The original purpose of creating two Houses of Congress, The House of Representatives and The Senate, was to allow for a check and balance in legislating and to provide for representation of the people AND the individual states.

The House of Representative has always been, "the people's House, " of Congress since every two years the entire House is elected directly by registered voters. The two year cycle provides for a , "shake up, " in the House if the people see a need for change. The House was designed to be a direct representative body of the people of the nation and as such directly answerable to every citizen with the representatives chosen directly FROM the people and BY the people. This also has always made the House much more prone to offer quick legislation that is based upon the emotion of the moment or the feelings of the citizens at the time.

The Senate was designed to be a slower more deliberate House of Congress whose members were not directly elected by the people but appointed by each State Legislature for a six year term with one third of the Senate eligible for election every two years in a rotational basis. Supposedly by Legislative appointment Senators would be the more, "elite, " of the nation and as such not as prone to legislate by emotion or by the tide of the times. Thus giving pause to House Legislation and study of such which provided for the balance between the two Chambers.

The 17th Amendment changed much of this original plan of the Framers as it provided for the direct election of each Senator by the people and removed the appointment authority of the State Legislatures. As such the States no longer have a representative voice in the Congress.

The appointment by State Legislatures of Senators insured accountability for the six year term. If a Senator was deemed to be negligent in his duties to the State or not accomplishing his job, he could then be removed during his term and replaced by the State. The only remaining provision of the original authority of the State concerning Senators is if a Senator cannot complete his term then the Governor , (not the Legislature),of that State will appoint a replacement who serves until the next election.

This one Amendment has removed the influence of individual States in Federal governing and has allowed for Senators to, rather than represent their individual States as was the intent of the Framers, become in their actions associate president's, foreign emissaries, elder statesman and accountable to no one.

This Amendment because of its inherent lack of accountability by Senators has also been directly responsible for a great deal of the out of control growth of the Federal Government. Senators who no longer represent their States use the Senate as a means of creation of Federal projects, entitlements, tremendous pork spending and other out of control measures that has, since its inception, seen an unfettered growth of the Federal Government, which was not what the framers intended.

Senators now rather than looking to the interest of their State dabble in issues that in most respects do not apply to the State level and just before a re-election bid throw billions in pork spending to their individual State to attempt to purchase votes by bragging to State residents of their financial accomplishments for the home folk. The remainder of the six year term the, "home folk, " are forgotten.

This could very well be one reason why historically this country does not elect a sitting Senator to the Presidency. In our history there have only been two, (Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy), sitting Senators elected to the White House. Others who have served in the Senate and elected President either served as Vice President, Governor, a high Cabinet position or other like executive jobs before election to the White House.

There seems to be a distrust of leadership with Senators who have only served as a Senator and the actions caused by the adoption of the 17th Amendment could explain the lack of sitting Senators as President.

The possibility of repealing the 17th Amendment and returning to the original intent of the Framers is not likely since the move to amend must begin in the Senate. The Federal power that this Amendment has given Senators and this Chamber of Congress insures that the 17th Amendment will remain as part of the Constitution and the States will continue to have no representation in Washington.

Ken Taylor