Unrequited Law: Utah’s Century with the Seventeenth Amendment, 1913-2013
AbstractThis paper examines the role of the 17th Amendment, the provision that established the direct election of U.S. senators. It is important to first trace a history of the philosophical debate about the composition of the U.S. Senate in the context of republicanism, federalism, and later populist criticism. After examining the history of the Utah Legislature’s refusal to ratify the Amendment in 1913, this paper investigates the impact of the Amendment on the behavior of the new Senate. Such concentrated federal power has spurred the contemporary attempts of Utah lawmakers to reverse these perceived corruptions of the Constitution’s original intent. Ultimately, this paper argues that the century-long impact of the 17th Amendment has contributed to an ongoing crisis in modern American federalism and helps explain the synthesis of ideas which motivates current attempts to repeal and reform it.
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