Sunday, August 30, 2009

The 17th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

In recent months there have been louder cries from the governors and state legistlators of many states, that the Federal Government has spilled over its bounds and is usurping the authority of the individual states. Many States Have passed legislation asserting their sovereignty. Montana had passed legislation stating the federal law does not apply to guns made sold and kept with in the state. Universally they have been invoking the 10th amendment in their claims. The tenth amendment reads thus.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Founding Fathers believed in a limited federal government and in the rights of states. Their first attempt at a constitution, the Articles of Confederation, gave no authority to central government in order to impose its will. Because of this the Government could not do anything or force the states to comply with its wishes. Nothing got done. In order to fix this they met again to address these problems. Out of this came the Constitution. The Constitution gave the federal government the authority it needed to conduct business, but the Founders were very concerned about the central government over-stepping its bounds and taking powers from the states. They did not want to over correct and give too much power to the central government. In order to protect the rights of states, the framers did two things: they created the Bill of Rights, specifically the 10th amendment, and they designed a government where senators would be chosen by the individual state legislatures.

The Founders set it up that the people individually would be represented in the Congress. That is why there is one congressman for a geographic area with roughly the same number of people. These congressmen would have to answer to their constituants by needing to be reelected by them every two years. The states would then be represented in the senate. That is why there is an equal number of senators per state regardless of its population. Senators where to protect the interests of the states. These senators would be chosen by the legisltures of the state and would be accountable to them by reappointment. The senator would then protect the rights of the state because he was accountable to them.

In 1913 this changed with the passing of the 17th amendment. Making the senators popularly elected. Now the states have no voice in the federal government. They have no one who specifically looks out for their best interest, or anyone who is directly accountable to them. Since 1913 the rights of the states have slowly been whittled away.

For more information on this subject you can read:
Principle #19 and #21 in The 5000 Year Leap
or follow this link to a CNN article about the 17th amendment


  1. Bill, you know a lot about our government! That'a why I like to read your blog, because I do not know much about it. Thanks!

  2. I appreciate your post. The 17th Amendment must be repealed - the sooner the better. If your readers have a continuing interest in this issue, we maintain related information here: