The Journal of History     Winter 2008    TABLE OF CONTENTS

American History

How the 17th Amendment is destroying our Nation
By Robert Brown
Editor of

The 17th Amendment is a subtle, little understood attack on our Constitutional Liberty.

The heart of it states, "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."

This Amends Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution, which states, "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."

Appointed by their State's Legislature
Elected by the People,
... what difference does it make?

To understand the significance of this change, we need to first understand the concerns of our Founding Fathers.

In 1787-88, when the States were debating the ratification of the newly proposed US Constitution, there was a great deal of resistance to it. Most of this resistance was from a concern of transferring too much power from the States to a strong central government. The States were, at this time, almost as independent as small, separate countries, and jealously guarded their sovereignty.

The US Constitution was very carefully written to limit the Federal Government to very few, specific powers which were enumerated within the Constitution itself.

Then, all powers not specifically "delegated to the United States [Federal Government] by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." (10th Amendment)

To preserve the power and sovereignty of the States, the US Senate was designated to be the "voice of the States" in Washington DC (just as the House of Representatives is the voice of the people). Since the Senate was appointed by their State Legislatures, Senators would be held accountable to represent the interests of their State Government.

Now, what is the natural self-interest of a state legislature? The preservation of their own power! If the Federal Government grows and takes on new power, it must take this power from the States (remember the 10th amendment).

A Legislature-appointed Senate would never allow a power transfer to the Federal Government and still expect to be reappointed by their State Legislature for another term of office.

In 1913, the 17th Amendment was reported to be ratified, although evidence of this ratification is lacking (see next article). Since that time, the States have had no voice in DC to prevent the Federal Government from usurping powers originally reserved to the States.

Examples of this are too numerous to list. However, one with which we should all be familiar is the Federal 'No Child Left Behind Act' (NCLB). Clearly, the Constitution grants no authority over public education to the federal government. Utah's State Legislature even passed a resolution declaring NCLB to have no Constitutional authority, and that Utah would not be observing this Federal Mandate. Within 48 hours, Federal jets landed in the Salt Lake City Airport, and Federal Agents paid visits to every state agency that receives Federal Funding. They used the power of this bribe-money to strong-arm the Utah State Legislature into submission. Utah's Legislators quickly backed down. Had the US Senators stood up for the power of their States, NCLB would have never passed.

Predictably, in the past 94 years, the Federal Government has grown to behemoth proportions, and the States are left with very little real power, except as the Federal Government allows.

If we are to reduce the Federal Government to fit within the limits prescribed by the Constitution, we need Senators who are held accountable for protecting the sovereignty of their States. We need to repeal the 17th Amendment and return to the inspired wisdom of our Founding Fathers.

Please continue on to read companion article by Devvy Kidd


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