I wrote this in response to the question, “Which has more power, the Senate or the House?”
They are equal (but not in the way we need them to be).
- The Senate represents the States.
- Two Senators per state for every state in the Union.
- The House represents the People.
- It’s based on the population of the country, and the number of representatives per state goes up when the state population goes up and goes down when the state population goes down.
The Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers tried to protect the States from the Federal Government by allowing the State Legislators (not the people of the state directly) to vote for who they wanted to be their two Senators. In 1913, this protection was removed by the 17th Amendment and now the people, not the State, pick their Senators.
As it was written in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers, prior to 1913, the State choosing its own Senators was a fundamental check and balance between Federal power and State power. For example, if the people of a state use their power in the House through their Representatives to try and pass a law that would take power away from a state, any state, even their own state, and give it to the Federal Government, the state can protect itself and block the law with its Senators in the Senate. Conversely, if a State tries to pass a law in the Senate that is against what the people of that state want, the people can block the State with their representatives in the House. This is classic checks and balances. The people in the House and the states in the Senate.
In 1913 our Federal Government added the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which changed who voted for Senators from the State Legislature, to the people of the state thus removing this check and balance and giving more power to Big Government.
In contrast to the 17th Amendment, the 10th Amendment of the Constitution says, “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.” In other words, the Constitution says that the federal government can only do certain things, a very limited number of things. All else not specifically mentioned as a power of the Federal Government by the Constitution belongs to the States and the People to decide. The purpose of the 10th Amendment was to create a weak Federal Government, and very powerful States. However, the 17th Amendment weakened the 10th Amendment by transferring power from the States to the Federal Government.
Now that the 17th Amendment uses direct elections, where the people decide who their Senators are, the State has no representation in Congress. The Senate now, is no different than the House of Representatives. Both are chosen directly by the people. Obviously that is not how it should be…think about it…why even have a Senate if both the House and the Senate are elected the same way. This is not how the Founding Fathers wanted it and they made it clear in the Constitution.
In addition to the checks and balances I explained above, the 17th Amendment now prevents the States from protecting themselves against the Federal Government directly. If the State legislature was capable of choosing its own Senators, then when the Federal Government attempted to remove power from the State or States, or do something unconstitutional, the State, all by itself, could protect its sovereignty and vote against whatever the measure was. This was another excellent check and balance. The State could even threaten secession (leave the Union) which was often used by States prior to 1913.
As a result of the 17th Amendment the States can no longer protect themselves against their own people, or the Federal Government, from the transferring of sovereign State power away from the States and into the hands, and the control, of Big Government.
We need to repeal the 17th Amendment.
Unfortunately, not many citizens are aware of the damage the 17th Amendment did, why the Founding Fathers would have opposed it, and why it’s important to repeal it.
Another casualty of our under-educational system.