Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Repudiating the 17th Amendment

I have spoken many times in the past on how the 17th Amendment was a collosal mistake disguised in giving a vote to the People. Usually my position was based on the Amendment removing a crucial and little-talked about vertical check on the federal government by the states.

Now Paul C. Hanson has taken it several steps further in what to do about it.

I'll reproduce here what he has said in its entirety at his myspace blog for anyone who doesn't have a myspace account. All credit to him for the fine work.

As found at http://www.dailypaul.com/node/55050

Here is why our government doesn't work and what to do about it
Posted July 15th, 2008 by pchanson
A Magic Bullet Will Be Needed to Kill the 17th Amendment.

An article by Paul Hanson

The U.S Constitution "originally" laid out the separation of powers
between the federal government and the State governments in the first paragraph of article 1 section 3. How this paragraph accomplished that goal will become clear later in this article. This paragraph states:

"The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the LEGISLATURE thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote."

Then in Article I, section 4 we also find this:

"The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators
and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the
Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the PLACES of
chusing Senators." Those places were to be in the State Legislatures.

This balance of power was then permanently locked in by the last
clause of article 5. I call this clause the magic bullet because
it can't be stopped by any means that I can see. Article 5 dealing
with amendments to the Constitution clearly states:

"... and that NO State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its
equal Suffrage in the Senate."

By including this in the section dealing with amendments, it is
obvious that the sections of the Constitution concerning selection
of Senators and the suffrage they provided was not amendable
unless ALL of States consented and that this was to be a permanent provision. All of the above shows how adamant the founders were about this point by referring to the States representation on no less than 3 occasions. If even ONE State objected to changes in an area that would affect their suffrage, that change would be invalid. The normal ratification process could not be used to alter this principle. Yet that is exactly what happened when the 17th amendment was adopted.

The father of our Constitution, James Madison, in Federalist 43,
further supports this claim. He states that the Constitution was
completely amendable with 2 exceptions only. One of the
exceptions dealt with the importation of slaves and became moot
after 1808. The other was the State's equal suffrage in the Senate.

It appears, then, that this all boils down to definition. What is the
definition of State suffrage? In Federalist 59, Hamilton explains
State suffrage as the State legislatures having a voice in the
Senate. The 17th amendment effectively canceled that voice and
turned it over to the citizens of the States. I submit to you that
now, however, this definition has been left entirely to the
discretion of the States themselves. The courts have no say in the
matter. I will explain this bold statement in detail later. Why do I
feel this issue vitally important to restoring States rights? For
the same reasons our Founders did, to support the concept of
federalism and the balance of power between the States and federal government.

This concept strictly limited the federal governments powers to those specifically enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S.
Constitution. The People, through the Constitution, permitted the
national government to exercise certain enumerated powers. By
limiting the federal government's power and granting the States
nearly unlimited power, the federal government would merely be
protecting the States collectively and allowing the States to
handle their own affairs.

Federalism allowed the States wide latitude to run their own affairs
and by doing so, created 13 laboratories of freedom to experiment and formulate the best system of self-governance. This situation also created an atmosphere of competition between the States. When a State allowed its inhabitants to prosper and keep what they earn, The State would prosper and be allowed to continue governing its people. When the State government became a burden to them, the people could vote out the tyrants during the next election. Another alternative was for the businesses and the people to move to a State that was more to their liking. Business leaving the State would cause the tax base to erode and so would the peoples support of that government. Sooner or later, either
the State government or the people would wake up and correct
the problem.

The 17th amendment took away the States protection from the abuses of federal power allowing the federal government to get away with legislating in areas where they had no business doing so. This was a grave error seriously upsetting the balance of power so carefully crafted into our magnificent Constitution. The concept of Federalism was all but destroyed leading to endless abuses by the federal government from which there is no escape.

The enforcement mechanism against federal encroachment prior to the invalid17th was the States' representation in the Senate. The "Peoples House"i.e. the House of Representatives amply represents the people, while the States were to be represented by the Senate.

The States now have no representation and we are experiencing the folly of this venture toward pure democracy today. We were founded as a Republic not a democracy and now we see why. All the States needed to do in the past was to recall or direct their Senators before a bad law made it to the floor of the Senate for a vote and the damage could be stopped in its tracks. Hamilton's Federalist essay 59 addresses this issue directly. This power has been unconstitutionally snatched from the States by the invalid 17th amendment.

Careful study of the 17th amendments ratification reveals at least 10 states that failed to do so. Those 10 were FL, MS, DE, KY, UT, MD, RI, AL, IA and GA. The clear manner in which article 5 is written places the statement dealing with States equal suffrage in the Senate after the words: "Provided that no Amendment which may be made..." further showing that this was an exception to the rule regarding amendments.

With the failure those of 10 states to ratify the 17th, they were
denied their equal suffrage in the Senate without their consent in
violation of Article 5, thus making the 17th amendment invalid.
However, once any state declares the 17th invalid, based on what
I have pointed out here, that State, even though it had previously
consented to the 17th can withdraw its consent anytime it so chooses. Any State that previously consented can say "we no longer consent" because Article 5 mentions nary a word about the permanence of any such consent. The right of the state to withdraw that consent is further fully supported by the clear wording of the 10th amendment:


"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 power to withdraw that consent is not prohibited by article 5
so the power to withdraw it is reserved and retained by the
States. Fits like a glove. All the states need to do is select their
Senators in their legislatures and send them to Washington.
Simple. And what would the courts say about move such as this?
No court can attempt to make the State comply with the 17th
because they won't have jurisdiction to try the case. Here's why:

When a sovereign State declares the 17th amendment invalid, the Senate would be unlawfully seated. It would then follow that the Supreme Court is also unlawfully seated as is the entire federal bench because the Senate approves those federal court appointments including the Supreme Court. Anything decided by those federal courts would be null and void. The State could simply refuse to recognize the jurisdiction of the court system. The States could argue that the federal judiciary has been confirmed by a Senate that did not have the states best interest at heart.

The only other argument that could be made against the State would be the power of the Senate to be the ultimate judge of their elections and refuse to seat the Senators. However, how can an illegitimate Senate make such a decision? The answer is, they can't.

I have presented these facts in many forums over the years and they have never been successfully challenged. One argument that always seems to arise is this: "Well, all the states do have equal suffrage because they still each have two senators." This invalid argument comes from a lack of full understanding of what "suffrage" really stands for and by a focus on the first term "equal" while ignoring the second, "suffrage." The point of my entire article is that the States (meaning the State Legislatures) are the ones who have lost suffrage. The people of the State now elect Senators and are in possession of that suffrage. The real point is who do these senators now represent? After I make this point, I usually get this: "Well, the people ARE the "State." This is not entirely accurate either. In all instances I can find in the Constitution where it is speaking about the States, it is speaking of the Legislature of the States. The best example I can find that clearly delineates between the two is the last clause of that wonderful 10th Amendment again. That clause clearly lists the "People" and the "States" as two separate entities. If they were the same thing, there would be no need to list them both in the very same sentence.

There are other far-reaching implications of an invalid 17th and I'm
sure that opponents of what's been written here will use them to fight these truths. I will not give them ammunition by detailing what those far reaching implications are. However, I will say this:
If we endeavor to rid ourselves of the invalid 17th amendment in
the manner outlined above, be prepared for the fight of your lives
because there are many entrenched interests that would like
nothing more than to never have this information reach the light
of day.

There have been many articles written concerning the "repeal" of the 17th amendment. While many of these articles correctly point out the folly of the 17th, they fail to realize that a movement to repeal is nothing more than a pipe dream. The only way to remove the 17th amendment is through outright repudiation using the method I have described above. I will explain why:

There are 2 methods laid out in Article 5 for amending the
Constitution. One of those methods is through a Convention of the
States. I will not go into details as to why this method should
never be used under any circumstances other than to say that if you truly value your freedoms, this method should be avoided at all
costs. The other method would be an exercise in futility. To use
the method that all the other amendments have used since the
10th would entail having to first convince 67 senators to vote
themselves out of a job. Then 290 House members would have to
vote for the repeal of an amendment which will make all the laws
they want to pass much more difficult to push through the Senate.
A senate which as a result of its passage would now be jealously
guarding the rights of the States that the House laws frequently
trample. If that isn't enough, you need to get 38 state legislatures
to vote for repealing an amendment over the objections of the
people who would feel like their right to vote was being stolen (a
right which never really existed due to an invalid 17th). To
educate the masses in 38 separate states that the 17th
amendment was a mistake is an insurmountable task. To do it
for just one, as would be the case in a move to repudiate it,
Maybe. In a repudiation argument, it could be demonstrated to
the people that the right to vote for their Senators should have
never been theirs in the first place due to the fraudulent manner
in which the 17th was adopted.

My first target for a move to repudiate would be done in a State
that swings to the right most of the time and where the voters are
well informed and leery of the feds. Utah would be my choice
since Utah rejected the 17th outright and they have been stung
recently by federal land grabs. Please join me in this endeavor to
repudiate the 17th and get the concept of federalism firmly back
on track.

We must educate ourselves and our posterity in the wonderful documents that founded our great Republic if we are ever to set it back on course toward freedom and prosperity. That is why I'm writing this today. My positions on the 17th amendment are supported by the Constitution of the United States including the 10th amendment and "The Federalist Papers", specifically Madison 43 and Hamilton 59.

Thanks for your attention,


Paul C. Hanson

This article can also be found on my blog.


Paul Hanson said...

Thanks for posting my blog!! Got someone on the inside of the JBS working on this. We'll see what happens. Some jaws are gonna drop if a state repudiates it. My friend Thomas and I ran across that little blurb in article V one night in a class on the Constitution around 15 or so years ago. The article was a result of our discussions based on the discovery. Surprising what you can learn by just a little careful reading. Thanks again.


Paul C. Hanson


FranG said...

Great article Paul Hanson and thanks Mudslinger for posting. I too am working on an article dealing with federal encroachment in general. I stumbled upon this article during my research and I must say it's very good. What a task we have in front of us for reforming this country, if reform is even possible at this juncture.

Chris said...

Wow that was a great article. I have been interested in this cause ever since I started reading the federalist papers and the 5000 year leap. I have read many articles discussing methods for repeal. This article gives me hope that we may have a fighting chance at restoring our republic. Thanks a lot for the article.