Thursday, March 24, 2016

What is up with the 17th Amendment and bills calling for a Convention of the States.

Convention of the States, or in some cases referred to the Con Con is the 2nd way in the Constitution that allows our US Constitution to be modified.

Article V
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

The first problem is we haven't done this since we created our constitution in Sep. 17, 1787.  The last time we had a convention of the states we got a new US Constitution.

The 2nd problem is that the State Legislatures Tell Congress to call a convention. Congress fully believes based on our Constitution that they get to set the mode of ratification, the rules, etc.

In 2015 and 2016, I actively fought these resolutions, because they are binding on the state, and I don't trust the people in Washington DC to improve our constitution, even if the states have to agree with the changes. We have had one or more of these Convention resolutions  pass, but I have killed others of them in the House Judiciary and so they don't even get sent to that committee anymore.

Is the Federal Government out of control based on the US Constitution, yes. Is this the way to fix it, putting our whole US Constitution at stake to be re-written, No!

The 17th Amendment.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution

 Prior to this amendment to the US Constitution, the US Senators were chosen by the State Legislatures. This was designed to protect against the Federal Government taking over powers delegated to the States.

Were there problems with this, yes. Power can corrupt. Do voters love voting for the US Senate candidates, they do, including me. I trust the voters. I don't trust the Federal Government to limit their powers to the US Constitution.

Is there a problem with what we have now, yes. Will repealing the 17th Amendment help, it might.

What I voted for:

I didn't ask to vote on this. I understand both sides of this issue.

1. This is a non binding resolution. It is URGING Congress to create an amendment to the constitution to repeal the 17th amendment. It is  NOT telling Congress that they SHALL call a convention of the states.

2. Unlike the Article V Convention of the States Resolutions, which if enough states sign, Congress Shall call a convention, this 17th Amendment resolution tells Congress they are out of line. If Congress were to create an amendment, it would be just the one modification, not put our entire constitution at risk and that proposed amendment would still have to be ratified by the states like any other amendment we have had over the last hundreds of years.

3. Do I trust the voters? Yes. I also trust the founders of the US Constitution and some of the changes we have made, perhaps have been unwise. They sound good, but have not worked like we thought. Others amendments including the first 10 Bill of Rights have proven to be critical for the good of the nation.