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From the Archives: Virginia GOP Senate candidates share thoughts on 17th Amendment repeal

Virginia GOP Senate candidates share thoughts on 17th Amendment repeal
May 1, 2012 7:41 PM MST

Three of the four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Virginia agree that efforts to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – which authorizes the direct election of senators – are impractical at best.

In post-debate interviews in Roanoke on Saturday, where all four candidates participated in a forum sponsored by the Republican Party of Virginia, the candidates expressed their views on the 17th Amendment in response to questions posed by the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner.

‘Repeal Amendment’ alternative

Jamie Radtke said that she does not think the repeal efforts are viable, “so I’ve been very supportive, as you know, of the Repeal Amendment,” proposed by William Howell, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, and Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett.

The Repeal Amendment, Radtke explained, “says that if two-thirds of the state legislatures agree,” Americans can use that method to “repeal any act of Congress, any rule, any regulation, or any tax.”

That, she said, “gets to the heart of the 17th Amendment without taking any people’s right to vote away.”

Exponential corruption

E.W. Jackson said that he has “been asked that question on numerous occasions and my response is always the same: I’m not convinced it’s a good thing to do.”

Jackson explained that, “while people may feel” indirect elections “may make a senator more responsive to the needs of the state and the state legislature,” he thinks “the potential for corruption is exponential” because of “the deals that need to be cut to select who that person is going to be.”

As a result, Jackson said, “I’m in favor of leaving it as it is but I’ve made a commitment to those who have that concern that I will regularly go and visit the General Assembly and regularly meet with our delegates and our senators [to] talk to them about what their needs are and what I can do to either help them with federal policy or get federal policy off the backs of our state.”

‘Cheaper to campaign’

17th Amendment Senate candidates Virginia politics

In his reply, Bob Marshall said that it will “be easier to elect senators who respect the Constitution rather than to repeal” the 17th Amendment.

He said that the reason the amendment had been passed in the early 20th century was that, “in about the 15 years prior to [its] enactment,” there were a number of state legislatures that “were not honoring their own obligation in sending people to Washington for the Senate.”

There were, he explained, “states which didn’t have representation in the Senate for months and months and months and what was going on? Deals were being cut, fights were being had behind closed doors.”

That situation, he said, “led to the direct popular election of Senators. It was the states’ own fault for doing that so I don’t see the practicality of repealing that.”

As an afterthought, Marshall added, “it was a heck of a lot cheaper to campaign then.”

The fourth candidate for the nomination, George Allen, did not have an opportunity to respond to the question about the 17th Amendment.

The winner of the June 12 GOP primary will face former Governor Tim Kaine in the November election to fill the seat being vacated by Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia).

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on May 1, 2012. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

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