In my readings I ran across the 1962 Supreme Court case Baker v. Carr and the 1963 case Gray v. Sanders which forced the states to determine membership in their legislatures based on population. These landmark cases were a huge blow against state sovereignty as set up in the constitution. Also, these cases along with the 17th Amendment increased democracy in the United States to dangerous levels, levels that would have shocked the founders. This is no surprise, the founders favored a much more limited democracy than either myself or most Americans would find acceptable.
Baker v. Carr and the 17th Amendment simply went too far. This case and that amendment have fundamentally altered the US Constitution to the point that I question what guides our government these days. I think it ends up being expediency mainly, with a dash of constitutional law here and a dash there. One thing is certain, our legislative branches at both the federal and state levels look more like the democratic Athens that killed Socrates than the ingenious republic that was patterned after both Rome and Greece; both Montesquieu and Rousseau. We’ve jettisoned the law of the Constitution, the separation of powers and fidelity to the original document in pursuing social justice, righting the wrongs of the past and believing (falsely) that pure democracy is a panacea for all our ills and distress. (For those interested in some of the problems posed by too much democracy click here.)
Why do we have bicameral legislatures if both bodies are made up of the most popular? Why not combine the two into a unicameral lawmaking body; instead of 435, 535? After the 17th Amendment was passed, what was the need for that separate “firm, wise and impartial body” to check the passions of the popular majority? And with the ruling of Baker v. Carr and the related cases that followed, what is the need at the state level?
I may consider myself a conservative, but I call for radical action to get us back to that more perfect union that we started with. Repeal the 17th Amendment and replace it with another one establishing term limits. After hearing the recent arrogant comments made by the Ma’am, Barbra Boxer that she should be addressed by the title of “Senator” because she worked very hard to get it, as if she was some elite professor at an Ivy League institution with tenure, I realized now more than ever we need term limits. Term limits would help remind our representatives, like Ma’am Boxer that they work for us and their time is limited and they are not to be exalted above the people. When the title “Senator” has become a title of distinction and elevation to the point of pride, it’s time that it was made low.
So in conclusion: repeal the 17th Amendment, enact term limits and return to the states what is rightly theirs.