In 1913, the 17th Amendment was ratified to allow people to directly elect U.S. Senators. This as not the original intent of the founding Fathers and for good reason. The Utah Senate agrees with the Found and not that of the early 1900s Progressives.
The Utah Senate on Wednesday called on Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment — so that state senators could again select U.S. senators.
It voted 20-6 to pass SJR2, and sent it to the House. It calls for Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Framers of the Constitution were deliberate in setting up the Senate as a way in which to balance power between the small and large states. They agreed that each sate would be represented equally in the Senate and it would be proportionate to the population of the states in the House. they were intentional in preserving the individual state’s authority and thus provided that state legislators would elect the senators.
In order to guarantee that the senators’ would remain autonomous from short-term political pressure, the Framers chose to implement a six-year Senate term, that would require that one-third of the members be up for re-election every two years, leaving the other two-thirds of the members in office and creating stability.
The framers of the Constitution created the United States Senate to protect the rights of individual states and safeguard minority opinion in a system of government designed to give greater power to the national government. They modeled the Senate on governors’ councils of the colonial era and on the state senates that had evolved since independence. The framers intended the Senate to be an independent body of responsible citizens who would share power with the president and the House of Representatives. James Madison, paraphrasing Edmund Randolph, explained in his notes that the Senate’s role was “first to protect the people against their rulers [and] secondly to protect the people against the transient impressions into which they themselves might be led”, as reported by Senate.gov.
Utah Senators recognize the flaw implemented in 1913 when the 17th Amendment was ratified.
“Today, senators are more beholden to special interest groups than to their states” because those interests give them money for re-election, Jackson said.
He added, “It’s time for our senators to come home every weekend and take direction from this body and from the House and the governor on how they should vote in the upcoming week.”
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, agreed. “We represent the people and we are the ones who can respond and give direction to our senators.”
The Progressives of 1912 and 1913 “dismissed individuals elected by such legislatures as puppets and the Senate as a “millionaire’s club” serving powerful private interests.” Yet today, Senators are puppets of special interest groups and the money given for re-election buys their behavior and their votes. No longer do we have the states’ needs represented in Senate, but rather the needs of those, (ie Special Interests Groups), with the most donations.
Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, disputed the plan’s logic. U.S. senators are now the only lawmakers elected by all voters in the state, she said, and therefore are not affected by redistricting that she says may have favored Republicans in Utah. She said repealing the amendment would also take away power from voters.
This argument is illogical. State legislators are closest to the people and elected by the people and therefore the voice of the people, as well as the power would be revived in a significant manner, should the 17th Amendment be repealed.
States’ rights, as well as the people’s rights, would be restored significantly and perhaps the vision of the balanced power that was so intentional to the Framers, would again become part of the fabric of our Nation.