Justice

Six Georgia Lawmakers Want To Take Away Voters’ Ability To Elect Their Own Senators

The Seventeenth Amendment, which guarantees that voters will elect their own U.S. senators — rather than having those senators chosen for them by the state legislature — is strangely unpopular in Tea Party circles. Both Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) believe their own elections to the United States Senate should be unconstitutional. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) called empowering voters to elect senators a mistake, and even Justice Antonin Scalia lamented the “decline of so-called states’ rights throughout the rest of the 20th century” as a result of the Seventeenth Amendment.

Earlier this month, six Georgia state lawmakers, Reps. Dustin Hightower (R), Mike Dudgeon (R), Buzz Brockway (R), Josh Clark (R), Kevin Cooke (R) and Delvis Dutton (R) decided to get in on this action, introducing a resolution calling for the Seventeenth Amendment to be repealed:

[T]he 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 . . . . NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA that the members of this body request the United States Congress to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Of course, in reality, state lawmakers themselves agreed to enact the Seventeenth Amendment in the first place because the previous system resulted in a kind of Citizens United on steroids. As David Gans explains, the previous system “led to rampant and blatant corruption, letting corporations and other moneyed interests effectively buy U.S. Senators, and tied state legislatures up in numerous, lengthy deadlocks over whom to send to Washington, leaving those bodies with far less time to devote to the job of enacting the laws their states needed for the welfare of the people.”