Constitution of the United States/Seventeenth Amend.

From Wiki Law School does not provide legal advice. For educational purposes only.

Constitutional Law Treatise
Table of Contents
US Constitution.jpg
Constitutional Law Outline
The Preamble
Article I Legislative Branch
Art. I, Section 1 Legislative Vesting Clause
Art. I, Section 2 House of Representatives
Art. I, Section 3 Senate
Art. I, Section 4 Congress
Art. I, Section 5 Proceedings
Art. I, Section 6 Rights and Disabilities
Art. I, Section 7 Legislation
Art. I, Section 8 Enumerated Powers
Art. I, Section 9 Powers Denied Congress
Art. I, Section 10 Powers Denied States
Article II Executive Branch
Art. II, Section 1 Function and Selection
Art. II, Section 2 Powers
Art. II, Section 3 Duties
Art. II, Section 4 Impeachment
Article III Judicial Branch
Art. III, Section 1 Vesting Clause
Art. III, Section 2 Justiciability
Art. III, Section 3 Treason
Article IV Relationships Between the States
Art. IV, Section 1 Full Faith and Credit Clause
Art. IV, Section 2 Interstate Comity
Art. IV, Section 3 New States and Federal Property
Art. IV, Section 4 Republican Form of Government
Article V Amending the Constitution
Article VI Supreme Law
Article VII Ratification
First Amendment: Fundamental Freedoms
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Free Speech Clause
Freedom of Association
Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms
Third Amendment: Quartering Soldiers
Fourth Amendment: Searches and Seizures
Fifth Amendment: Rights of Persons
Sixth Amendment: Rights in Criminal Prosecutions
Seventh Amendment: Civil Trial Rights
Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Ninth Amendment: Unenumerated Rights
Tenth Amendment: Rights Reserved to the States and the People
Eleventh Amendment: Suits Against States
Twelfth Amendment: Election of President
Thirteenth Amendment: Abolition of Slavery
Thirteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition on Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
Thirteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection and Other Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 1 Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 2 Apportionment of Representation
Fourteenth Amend., Section 3 Disqualification from Holding Office
Fourteenth Amend., Section 4 Public Debt
Fourteenth Amend., Section 5 Enforcement
Fifteenth Amendment: Right of Citizens to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 1 Right to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Sixteenth Amendment: Income Tax
Seventeenth Amendment: Popular Election of Senators
Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition of Liquor
Eighteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement of Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Nineteenth Amendment: Women's Suffrage
Twentieth Amendment: Presidential Term and Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 1 Terms
Twentieth Amend., Section 2 Meetings of Congress
Twentieth Amend., Section 3 Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 4 Congress and Presidential Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 5 Effective Date
Twentieth Amend., Section 6 Ratification
Twenty-First Amendment: Repeal of Prohibition
Twenty-First Amend., Section 1 Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment
Twenty-First Amend., Section 2 Importation, Transportation, and Sale of Liquor
Twenty-First Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Second Amendment: Presidential Term Limits
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 1 Limit
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 2 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Third Amendment: District of Columbia Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 1 Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fourth Amendment: Abolition of Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 1 Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 1 Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 2 Vice President Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 3 Declaration by President
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 4 Declaration by Vice President and Others
Twenty-Sixth Amendment: Reduction of Voting Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 1 Eighteen Years of Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Seventh Amendment: Congressional Compensation

Seventeenth Amendment Popular Election of Senators

Overview[edit | edit source]

The ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment was the outcome of increasing popular dissatisfaction with the original method of state legislatures selecting Senators set forth at Article I, Section 3, Clause 1.[1] As more people were able to exercise the franchise, the belief became widespread that Senators ought to be popularly elected in the same manner as Representatives.[2] Acceptance of this idea was fostered by the mounting accumulation of evidence of the practical disadvantages and malpractices attendant upon legislative selection, such as deadlocks within legislatures resulting in vacancies remaining unfilled for substantial intervals, the influencing of legislative selection by corrupt political organizations and special interest groups through purchase of legislative seats, and the neglect of other duties by legislators as a consequence of protracted electoral contests.

Clause Text
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.

Historical Background on Popular Election of Senators[edit | edit source]

Prior to ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, many states had adopted arrangements calculated to afford voters more effective control over the selection of Senators. Some states amended their laws to enable voters participating in primary elections to designate their preference for one of several party candidates for a senatorial seat and state legislatures generally elected the winning candidate of the majority. In two states, candidates for legislative seats were required to promise to support, without regard to party ties, the senatorial candidate polling the most votes. As a result of such developments, the year before the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified, at least twenty-nine states were nominating Senators on a popular basis, and, as a consequence, the constitutional discretion of the state legislatures had been reduced to little more than that retained by presidential electors.[3]

Doctrine on Popular Election of Senators[edit | edit source]

Shortly after ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, some courts took the position that if a person possessed the qualifications required to vote for a Senator, the person's right to vote for the Senator was not derived merely from the constitution and laws of the state that chose the Senator, but had its foundation in the Constitution of the United States.[4] Consistent with this view, federal courts declared that, when local party authorities, acting pursuant to regulations prescribed by a party's state executive committee, refused to permit a Black citizen, on account of his race, to vote in a primary to select candidates for the office of U.S. Senator, they had deprived him of a right secured to him by the Constitution and laws, in violation of the Seventeenth Amendment.[5] By contrast, the Supreme Court held that an Illinois statute that required a petition signed by at least 25,000 voters from at least fifty counties to form and nominate candidates for a new political party did not violate the Seventeenth Amendment, notwithstanding that 52% of the state's voters were residents of one county, 87% were residents of forty counties, and only 13% resided in the fifty-three least populous counties.[6]

  1. See Art. I, Sec. 3, Cl. 1: Selection of Senators by State Legislatures.
  2. See Art. I, Sec. 2, Cl. 1: Voter Qualifications for House of Representatives Elections.
  3. 1 G. Haynes, The Senate of the United States 79-117 (1938).
  4. United States v. Aczel, 219 F. 917, 929-30 (D. Ind. 1915) (citing Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651 (1884)).
  5. Chapman v. King, 154 F.2d 460 (5th Cir. 1946), cert. denied, 327 U.S. 800 (1946).
  6. MacDougall v. Green, 335 U.S. 281 (1948), overruled on equal protection grounds in Moore v. Ogilvie, 394 U.S. 814 (1969). See Forssenius v. Harman, 235 F. Supp. 66 (E.D.Va. 1964), aff'd on other grounds, 380 U.S. 528 (1965), where a three-judge District Court held that the certificate of residence requirement established by the Virginia legislature as an alternative to payment of a poll tax in federal elections was an additional qualification to voting, in violation of the Seventeenth Amendment and Art. I, § 2.