17th Amend: Direct Election of Senators - Pro's and Con's?

R

rozzlapeed

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#1
U.S. Constitution said:
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.
was amended by:

17th Amendment said:
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. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
I only started thinking about this recently, but in light of the current political atmosphere, in which almost nobody understands the concept of state's rights, I believe this topic deserves some examination.

Plagiarizing from Wikipedia [Link]:

Wikipedia said:
Amendment XVII (the Seventeenth Amendment) of the United States Constitution was passed by the Senate on June 12, 1911 and by the House on May 13, 1912. It was ratified on April 8, 1913 and was first put into effect for the election of 1914. It amends Article 1 Section 3 of the Constitution to provide for the direct election of Senators by the people of a state rather than their election or appointment by a state legislature, thus effectively eliminating state representation in Congress. It was passed and ratified during the Progressive Era. The 17th amendment said there would be a "direct election of senators: by the people".
The article goes on to describe the historical context, in which it seems that Direct Elections were introduced in response to widespread corruption within the Senate. However, it's long-standing practical effect seems to be that this amendment has virtually removed the ability for state governments to have any representation in Congress. With a little searching we may be able to find cases where this amendment has actually interfered with our rights as individuals.

Drug Prohibition

Consider this: many states are now in the process of decriminalizing marijuana use and possession, but Federal laws currently supercede those of the states. Had states been capable of lobbying in Congress through their own direct representation in the Senate, they would have been able to kill attempts to prohibit the sale of marijuana, which otherwise could be taxed and regulated by the states, a power they would have likely fought very hard to retain. Had they been able to, we might never have had the War on Drugs, which would have been interpreted as detrimental to States' tax revenues.

Supreme Court Appointments

It is the duty of the Senate to provide advice and consent on all federal judicial appointments, including those to the Supreme Court. Had the state legislatures maintained direct representation in the Senate, it might have had a huge effect on how events played out in the second half of the 20th century. If senators represented state governments rather than the state populations, they probably would have recognized the threat posed by Judges who did not respect state sovereignty, and would have resisted appointment of the kinds of justices that allowed the New Deal, gave us Roe vs. Wade, and that otherwise expanded the authority of the Federal government in relationship to the States.

There are probably other examples that would show how this amendment has been significant, but I have work to do. I'll think of some more and post them when I have time.