Schleicher Comments on Efforts to Blunt Effect of the 17th Amendment

Commenting in an article on efforts by a conservative group to blunt the effects of the 17th Amendment, Professor David Schleicher argues that a repeal might not have the effect that advocates anticipate.

"People who support 17th Amendment repeal or anything like it misunderstand what the 17th amendment did and why it passed... [It] was the desire to allow state elections to be about state issues and not to be about national issues," Schleicher says.

In Schleicher's view, important state issues might be set aside while voters instead focused on choosing state legislators who would support their choice of Senate candidate.

"If people were voting in a legislative election and the state legislature would choose the senator, the senator would be the only important issue," Schleicher explains. "People would just vote for the senator." 

State-endorsed candidates might have some advantages over regular party candidates on the ballot, says Schleicher.

"You could imagine a candidate saying they've been endorsed by the state. That's very powerful," he points out. "If they just appear as an independent, basically, it might be less effective." 

ALEC Floats Legislation Chipping Away at the 17th Amendment, Huffington Post, November 15, 2013. By Amanda Terkel.

"The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council is wading back into election issues, as it considers supporting a bill that would increase the role of state legislatures in the election of U.S. senators, chipping away at the powers vested directly in the people under the 17th Amendment.

"ALEC circulates model legislation to state legislators, and its bills have resulted in states passing laws related to voter ID, so-called Stand Your Ground issues and the elimination or reduction of state income taxes.

"In early December, a group of ALEC members are scheduled to consider supporting a range of potential new model legislation, including the "Equal State's Enfranchisement Act," according to a memo posted on the group's website.

"The bill would significantly increase the role of the state legislature in the election of U.S. senators, inching back toward the process used prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913. The 17th Amendment established the direct election of U.S. senators. Before this amendment, senators were chosen by state legislators.

"Under the draft measure, a plurality of the state legislature would be able to nominate a candidate to appear on the ballot, alongside candidates nominated by the parties through the convention or primary process."