A Call to Repeal the 17th Amendment: Direct Election of Senators

The Story:

Recently the Wall Street Journal ran an essay (on its op-ed page) written by Senator Ben Sasse (R – NE), who made the extraordinary suggestion that the 17th amendment, ratified more than a century ago, now requires repeal. The 17th took the choice of a state’s Senators away from the legislature, and gave it instead to the broad voting populace of each state.


Sasse contends that the US Senate, in the scheme of the founders, was supposed to be “the place where Americans hammer out our biggest challenges with debate.” His point seems to be that the hammering works best if the carpenters involved are not responsive to the shifting popular will, are insulated from its ups and downs by the intermediary level of consideration offered by the state legislators.

Sasse voted against the removal of Donald Trump from office after the impeachment trial. Yet in other respects he has showed himself to be independent of the Trumpian line.

The Thing to Know:

There is roughly a zero chance that there will be any repeal or even tampering with the 17th amendment for decades yet to come. Yet it does help show how endemic is the sense that the US political system is badly broken.


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