Far-Thinking Georgia Republicans Want to Scrap the 17th Amendment

A copy of former President George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights is viewed at Christie’s auction house on June 15, 2012 in New York City.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Georgia’s legislature, now run by a Republican supermajority, has inched ahead on a resolution endorsing the repeal of the 17th Amendment. Honestly, I thought that fad died out sometime in 2011, but it’s easy to forget that the 2012 election firmed up Republican control in red states, and that ideas like this have empowered sponsors. The rationale, from the bill text:

WHEREAS, the original purpose of the United States Senate was to protect the sovereignty of the states from the federal government and to give each individual state government representation in the federal legislative branch of government; and

WHEREAS, the Seventeenth Amendment has resulted in a large federal government with power and control that cannot be checked by the states; and…

WHEREAS, since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, the size and scope of the federal government has grown exponentially and severely weakened the powers held by the individual states and the people as acknowledged by the Tenth Amendment to theUnited States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the United States Senate was designed to protect the rights and interests of the individual states, and the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment would help to prevent the many unfunded mandates and unconstitutional laws passed onto those states by the federal government.

Is any of this prevented by the direct election of senators? Sort of. If state legislatures were re-empowered to pick senators, there’d be no nettlesome Democrats from North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, or Michigan. The only states with Republican senators who wouldn’t be there under the legislative-election system are New Hampshire and Maine. So, yes, this would make it easier to undo a few things.