Sunday, April 8, 2012

I shoulda been paying attention

2012 is the 225th birthday of the U.S. Constitution - signed 17 Sep 1787; ratified June 21, 1788 (New Hampshire - the 9th state to ratify); implemented 4 March 1789. [Things moved more slowly in the 18th century!]

Today - 8 April - is the birthday of the 17th Amendment, establishing direct election of Senators:
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.

[ratified 8 April 1913]
Some folks were and are unhappy with this Amendment, as direct election turns the Upper House over to 'mob rule' - stripping the presumably better-informed, more level-headed members of state legislatures of the right and obligation to select Senators, making the Senate less patrician and more attentive to current political whims. As originally conceived, the Senate was a 'patrician' House - with Senators representing the well-informed, intellectual, propertied class.

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