States’ Rights and the 17th Amendment – Alvin Jackson

Issue: In terms of the national debt, we went from owing $807.11 per person in 1900 to $50,200 today, because in 1913 your U.S. Senator became a spender instead of a saver, as a result of the passage of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Senators were supposed to represent the states conserving the nation’s resources and the people’s freedom. They are now more beholden to Washington, DC special interest groups than to you or your particular state, since getting re-elected is paramount. We, the People, no longer have the protection afforded to us in the original Constitution from an over-aggressive federal government. Over-regulation, taxes, and debt are the results of the passage of the 17th Amendment. 

Background: The problems facing our nation today are not Democratic or Republican. The entire system is broken, as we have veered far from the Constitution the Founding Fathers gave us. Unfortunately, the several amendments added to the original Constitution coupled with onerous decisions by the Supreme Court have resulted in more political power being concentrated in Washington, DC, away from the people. Of course, this is contrary to the vision established by the Founders, which has weakened our nation politically and economically. This phenomenon has contributed to the myriad of complex problems threatening the future of this great nation including staggering and unsustainable debt, high inflation, high unemployment, over-regulation, a mediocre education system, etc. As we’ve all experienced, Washington, DC is just not capable of solving these problems. 

In the original Constitution, the Founding Fathers gave the states the authority to protect the people from an over-aggressive federal government, in the form of checks and balances. The check that the states had on the Federal government came in the form of a senator, chosen and appointed by the Legislatures of each state. Through the appointed senators, states were given the power to veto a runaway federal government in areas involving the budget, taxes, public lands, regulations, etc. Passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913 shattered the concept of each state’s power, as the Founders originally designed it. This amendment outlawed the right of the state legislatures to appoint their senators. As a result, both Houses of Congress function identically, both beholden to the people for their job, thereby opening the door to massive spending of taxpayer money to satisfy the masses, leaving the states little or no representation. The Founders had assigned the Senate the responsibility of representing the states as sovereign entities, which is why they were appointed by the state legislatures rather than elected directly by they people of the state. This was so that senators would not be compelled to involve themselves in the popular issues of the day but could concentrate primarily on the protection of states’ rights, protecting the people, and on maintaining the established order. It was presumed the people would have a voice in choosing the senators, as members of their state legislature lived and worked in their neighborhoods, thereby providing more opportunities for the average citizen to participate in the process. 

Recommendation: Please join with the Thomas Jefferson Center for Constitutional Restoration in encouraging States to stand up and demand that our elected representatives pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that repeals the 17th Amendment. This will re-establish the procedure for the state legislatures to select their senators, thereby making representatives in the state legislatures beholden to the will of the people and protect them from a runaway federal government. How wonderful it would be to have your US Senator return to your state regularly and often to receive counsel from locally elected officials on how they should vote on certain issues, thereby restoring the states’ ability to protect the people from an over-aggressive federal government. We must call upon leaders at the state level to actively seek this remedy and restore the proper checks and balances on the Federal Government originally intended by the Founders of this great nation. This is the single most effective step we can take to save our economy and restore States’ rights. 

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