The United States Senate is supposed to represent the States. That’s why it was created. Part of the compromise between big States and little States in Philadelphia in 1787. The House of Representatives speaks for the people; the Senate speaks for the States.
Mighty important deal they cut. Under the Articles of Confederation, each State got one vote. Period. Rhode Island was just as important as New York or Virginia. Which the folks from the big States didn’t like. So they compromised and decided on a bicameral legislature. Two houses. Both had to agree or nothing would happen.
Still, the small States weren’t quite happy. What if, in the future two-thirds of the States were to propose and three quarters of the States were to ratify, an amendment which said the little States wouldn’t have an equal vote in the Senate?
Yeah. What if? So there was another compromise. They added these words to Article V:
“Provided…that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”
That seems pretty straight forward, but there’s one little hitch. Section 3 of Article One of the Constitution says that there shall be two Senators from every State. The result is that whenever a State has two Senators from different parties, their votes cancel each other out. In other words, those States have no actual say in what happens in the Senate.
Here are the current numbers:
There are 17 States with two Democratic Senators.
There are 14 States with two Republican Senators.
There are 17 States with one Republican Senator and one Democratic Senator.
There is one State with one Republican Senator and one Independent.
There is one state with one Democratic Senator and one Independent.
So what happens when the Continuing Resolution reaches the floor of the Senate?
If, in fact, Article V of the Constitution were to be enforced, and each State given “equal suffrage” in the Senate, nothing would happen.
Even if the two Independent Senators were to vote with their State colleague, there would still be 17 States without a voice in the ObamaCare v Shut Down the Government debate.
How do the people in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota feel about the issue?
No one will ever know. They have no voice in the United States Senate.
I don’t want to sound critical of James Madison, George Washington and their colleagues, but…
But wouldn’t it have been wiser to give each State either one Senator or three Senators?
If there were one from each State, only a third of the Senate would be up for election in any year.
Pretty tough for the voters to clean house. If there were three, one elected every two years, every State would elect one Senator every two years, assuring that the Senate would more accurately reflect current opinion.
And while we are at it, maybe we should repeal the 17th amendment.
All in favor, say Aye.
Here is some suggested language:
The Senate shall consist of the present 100 members, their successors, and an additional 50 Senators who shall be chosen when this Amendment is adopted as provided by law for the filling of vacancies, and whose terms shall expire in the next succeeding year when the terms of neither of the other Senators from that State shall expire. All voting in the Senate shall be by States, and each State will have one vote.
Senators shall be chosen as provided by State law. The 17th Amendment is repealed.