Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The 17th Amendment

April 8 will be the 97th anniversary of the ratification of the 17th Amendment, which mandated the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote, rather than by state legislatures. This Amendment overrides Article I, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution. U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) recently called for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, arguing that this action would do much to restore states rights.

The Framers of the Constitution called for the election of senators by state legislatures not only to maintain a balance between federal and state power but also to provide a filter for popular opinion. The Founders had apprehensions about making government too democratic, as they believed that the common man might succumb to "passion" (emotion) instead of reason and elect unqualified representatives. Over time, as the right to vote broaded to include more of the American populace, people began to call for the direct election of senators.

Voting rights have expanded throughout our country’s history. Have your students play the National Constitution Center’s Seize the Vote game and learn more about voting history as they attempt to win their character’s right to vote.


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