Late last week, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is currently campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ), told a Republican gathering in Payson, Arizona that he supports abolishing the Seventeenth Amendment’s guarantee that voters elect their own senators. Prior to the Seventeenth Amendment’s ratification, the Constitution provided for senators to be selected by state legislatures, a system that was abandoned after it led to “rampant and blatant corruption, letting corporations and other moneyed interests effectively buy U.S. Senators.”
Flake, however, is not alone in his desire to make America less democratic. Indeed, at least two other GOP senate candidates, one GOP governor, one Republican senator and a Supreme Court justice all have indicated agreement with Flake’s ambition to return the Constitution to the halcyon days of the Nineteenth Century:
- Indiana Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock: Mourdock, who defeated incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) in a GOP primary after campaigning on a platform of refusing to compromise with Democrats, suggested at a campaign event last February that senate elections should be abolished because “the House of Representatives was there to represent the people. The Senate was there to represent the states.”
- Missouri Senate Candidate Rep. Todd Akin: Akin, the GOP nominee facing incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said during a GOP primary debate last may that “I don’t think the federal government should be doing a whole lot of things that it’s doing and it well may be that a repeal of the 17th Amendment might tend to pull that back.”
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Perry’s star has fallen considerably since his “oops” of a presidential campaign. Nevertheless, he remains the governor of America’s second largest state. He also believes that “The American people mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century by giving it an unlimited source of income (the Sixteenth Amendment) and by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment).”
- Sen. Mike Lee: Lee believes that federal child labor laws, FEMA, food stamps, the FDA, Medicaid, income assistance for the poor, Medicare and Social Security violate the Constitution, so it is not surprising that he is also a seventeenther. Lee explained his opposition to his own election to the United States Senate in an interview with Fox Business.
- Justice Antonin Scalia: Scalia, who was widely criticized for his partisan rhetoric during the Supreme Court’s recent health care and immigration cases, also called for the Constitution to be changed to abolish senate elections — “I would change it back to what [the founders] wrote, in some respects. The 17th Amendment has changed things enormously.”