Thursday, July 15, 2010
The Seventeenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, provides for direct election of U.S. Senators by the people (and not, as in the original Article I, Section 3, by process set by the state legislature). The change, Zywicki argues, means that U.S. Senators no longer answer to their states. As a result, the Senate no longer plays its state-protecting role that it once played--that individual U.S. Senators (and thus the Senate as a whole) lack the incentives to control federal encroachment upon the states. Moreover, questions of federalism that were once resolved by the political branches (with the Senate as protector of the states) now go to the Supreme Court under the Tenth Amendment. But the Supreme Court has "fumbled," upsetting the federal-state balance that the Founders so carefully framed.
These and similar arguments have gained more vocal followers recently, especially within the Tea Party movement, as we've covered here.