Ep. 21: U.S. Constitution – Art. I, Sec. 3, The Senate (Part 1 of 2)

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Ep. 21: U.S. Constitution - Art. I, Sec. 3, The Senate (Part 1 of 2)
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Show Notes

In this episode, Jason and Matt discuss what was arguably the most contentious topic of the Constitutional Convention: state representation in the U.S. Senate (Article I, Section 3, Clause 1). They draw on the debates from the Convention to give the context and perspectives from both sides of the debate as well as give an summary of how the 17th Amendment undermined the original intent.

  • U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 3, Clause 1:
    • “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”
  • Records of the Federal Convention (Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III)
  • 10 Commandments
  • Rufus King (comment in the Constitutional Convention):
    • “As the fundamental rights of individuals are secured by express provisions in the State Constitutions; why may not a like security be provided for the Rights of States in the National Constitution.”
  • Roger Sherman (comment in the Constitutional Convention):
    • If they vote by States in the 2nd. Branch [the senate], and each State has an equal vote, there must be always a majority of States as well as a majority of the people on the side of public measures, & the Govt. will have decision and efficacy.
  • U.S. Constitution, Amendment XVII:
    • “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.”
  • James Madison, Federalist #10:
    • “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention: have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property: and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths”
  • U.S. Constitution, Amendment X:
    • “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
  • James Madison (comment in the Constitutional Convention):
    • The use of the Senate is to consist in its proceeding with more coolness, with more system, & with more wisdom, than the popular branch.
  • George Mason (comment in the Constitutional Convention):
    • “The State Legislatures also ought to have some means of defending themselves agst. encroachments of the Natl. Govt. In every other department we have studiously endeavored to provide for its self-defence. Shall we leave the States alone unprovided with the means for this purpose? And what better means can we provide than the giving them some share in, or rather to make them a constituent part of, the Natl. Establishment”

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