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  • Can U.S. Senators Be Recalled?

    In Arizona, Louisiana and a few other states, well-meaning citizens would like to recall their U.S senators. Fair enough. But while this opinion represents a commendable movement to make Congress more accountable for its actions, it tramples on the U.S. Constitution and undermines the rule of law.

    Contrary to popular Web sites, the recall of members of the U.S. Congress has never been permissible according to the Constitution, and no member of the Congress has ever been removed by such means. That’s because the U.S. Constitution sets the qualifications and terms for being a member of the House or Senate; changing those qualifications or terms (as in making them subject to a recall) is unconstitutional and would require a constitutional amendment.

    Recall is not a new idea. At the Constitutional Convention, the Framers considered and rejected a national recall provision. Recall was raised again as an amendment in New York, but the 1788 ratifying convention defeated it. Why? Because the Constitutional structure held senators accountable. Originally, senators were elected by the state legislatures and were responsible to their state for their actions. At the same time, the Framers wanted to bring deliberation to the national legislature and sought to protect lawmaking from the whim of passion and majority faction. If legislators are constantly under the threat of instant recall, they will never be sure of their step, for fear of some impulse of the moment. So the Constitution creates a bicameral legislature–with the House subject to the changing sentiments of opinion, and the Senate, with its longer terms, bringing stability and deliberation.

    These considerations, however, should not lead us to believe the Framers did not provide a way to remove bad legislators. The Constitution contains an expulsion clause for members of Congress, though it has widely been neglected since the Civil War cases of disloyalty. The most effective means of removal is still election: if a member of Congress does not do their work well, then don’t return them to office.

    Some confusion about recall is understandable. During the Progressive era, recalls were instituted for state and local officers across the nation. To be clear, these changes did not apply to federal officers (i.e. senators, representatives, judges). In 1908, Michigan and Oregon became the first states include recall in their state constitutions. Eighteen states currently continue this progressive legacy.

    It was also the Progressive movement that undermined the Senate’s role in protecting the states. The 17th Amendment made a fundamental change in the structure of our federal system when it was ratified in 1913. U.S. Senators, who were intended to represent the states and give an account to their state legislatures, are now popularly elected. Those who want to make the Senate once again accountable to the states would do well to consider reversing that change for the good of the Constitution.

    Benjamin Shelton currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in First Principles, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    40 Responses to Can U.S. Senators Be Recalled?

    1. Trey, Texas says:

      A better reform to hold Senators accountable would be to repeal the 17th Amendment.

      http://repealthe17th.ning.com/

    2. MarkV says:

      Benjamin,

      Would it be your suggestion and that of the Heritage Foundation to push for repealing the 17th Amendment? I ask because the article is leading, but without conclusion.

    3. R. George Dunn says:

      Too bad we couldn't waive a wand and all of the 1913 Congressional actions be eliminated.

    4. Ozzy6900 says:

      The Founders were correct in not having a recall for Senators but also, we must remember that back then, the Senate and Congress were not FULL TIME JOBS! They were called to meet as it became necessary, other times, they were back in their States. Under these conditions, there was more accountability than there is today because the Representatives had to "face" their constituents on a regular basis. Today, our representatives are "lost" in Washington Politics and rarely come back to their States unless it is an election year.

      While I am not in favor of recall and agree with the removal of the 17th Amendment (pure BS), there has to be some accountability to the now full time jobs of the Senate and Congress. We as voters must learn to pay more attention to the people we elect and if they are not doing what we want, we must get rid of them at the next election. Not keep putting them back just because they are fixtures; aka Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy.

    5. Todd says:

      MarkV is right the article is very well written and informative but doesn't close with any substance as to where Heritage leans. Albeit repealing the 17th would be good in many ways I think the underlying issues it would cause would perhaps outweigh them. The best thing we can do for now is get the word out and ensure everyone knows the true importance of election day. We need to move past the "my vote doesn't count" mentality. The truth is all votes count and the need to go to the polls is more and more important as our society moves further into the future. The world is getting smaller and faster with technology and an alarming birthrate. This is why we need the right people in the right places making the hard tough decisions for the better if not we're going to be left behind.

      Just A Point of View

    6. dick, houston, tx says:

      It seems odd to me that we have a means to recall/oust a President (executive)

      but not for the other two branches of the government. Likewise we are concerned

      mightily by qualification for the Judicial and Legislative branch candidates but

      not for the executive. What office in our federal government is responsible for

      vetting candidates legal qualifications for the office they seek ?

    7. chyatt albuquerque says:

      Forget the constitution. Leave it intact. Recall your representative in 2010 and finish the job in 2012. If politicans want to know how to get elected or re-elected its simple, control the spending. In absence of this, thier jobs, just like ours are at risk. What tax payers are to learn out of the last few years is that you should keep a close eye on your money and your politicians.

    8. Lwesson, Tejas says:

      Ozzy6900 has a valid point in noting how our representatives are "lost" in Washington Politics. Senators seem like Roman Deities that only flirt with the mortals if need be, (elections) and then back to the golden clouds. That "representation" has become a full time job of security, entitlement, riches, and isolation from the smelly masses of the clamoring public. From what I see of the Senate, there is nearly a sneering contempt for the voting masses and mealy mouthed lies are made for reelection for a sadly tuned voting public.

      Removing the 17th Amendment is fine. What no one here has mentioned is that the Founders had a historically articulated real fear that The Public would undermine the Republic by eventually finding that, they The Public, could vote themselves the largess, the wealth of the nation thus creating countless hucksters that would step into the breach to be the "delivery agents" so to speak for the covetous People. The Senate was to be a level headed, thoughtful and isolated from The People, a branch of representatives that would counter the more brash and public opinion driven Congressional branch.

      The Progressives were insidious in undoing the thoughtful protective works of The Founders as they are today. Progressive towards what direction without any introspection as to what will come of the CHANGE? Actually, the hidden agenda of The Progressives is not so hidden save for the nicety of the name. The good things that they have done mask the undercurrent of bad things that they have and want to do. Any good con-artist knows this! America take heart! We have some of the best con men and women in the World!

    9. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      So, I'm (and most of Louisiana) is stuck with Mary Landrieu until 2014? That's absurd! By 2014 we may not have the Constitution, let alone the 17th admendent. The majorty of the citizens of Louisiana want Landrieu gone. But because of ACORN, welfare recipients, and other such voter fraud groups, their is no guarantee that she can be voted out then.

      As a matter of fact, ACORN is the major reason Landrieu was re-elected in 2002. In that election, fraudulent voters testified at a federal trail that they voted as many as 5 times, was paid for each vote, and bussed to the polls. But a liberal judge felt those testimonies were NOT enough to throw out the election results and order a new election. How do we fight that type of injustice?

      In the latest Obamacare buy-off, Landrieu not only extorted 300 million, but in addtion, part of the deal was for the DNC fund her brother's campagin for mayor of New Orleans. Because of the 17th admendment, millions of citizens are

      helpless to save our country from Obama and his lackeys.

    10. Daverino Ft. Worth says:

      Systems that inherently align rewards with goals are always the most successful. Unfortunately in today's world, rewards lie with party loyalty rather than the state's goals. Changing back to a state selection system might improve the accountability slightly, but could also have dubious results in notoriously partisan or corrupt states like Illinois.

      Also having Senators on board for 6 years might want to be re-thought as well? The age of the internet and jet travel has eliminated some of the "freshman" growth curve and if we seek a less "professional" class of rulers in general–than either shortening terms or strict term limits might be a good start toward fostering the right mentality for our leaders.

    11. Joe Ruffino, New Yor says:

      I can think of a number of Senators that could be recalled using the same provisions as used during the Civil War. This would be disloyality. I would start with the two NY Senators, the guy from Illinois and while we are at it the President occupant of the Whilte House. He swore to uphold the Constitution. It looks like all he wants to do is change it.

    12. Thomas Given Northpo says:

      Obviously,carrer politions are the problem. I would propose a 4 term limit in the House and a 2 term limit in the Senate. 20 years is enough time for the public to endure any scoundrel.

    13. Michelle Gray, Oakla says:

      You think the California legislature is capable of making a rational choice of Senators? Are you kidding me? They would select a termed-out crony who couldn't get an honest job. The Framers did a brilliant job of setting up our government, but when I read the arguments they made that state governments would make the wisest choices of Senators, I have to laugh.

    14. Brad, Chicago says:

      Maybe the public will finally learn something from this. If we have an instant solution, it doesn't matter who you vote in, because you can remove them at any time. The inability to remove a senator, now that we want to, should teach us how important it is to know who we're voting for and to vote, period. If we only vote when it's convenient for us (i.e. we want to remove a senator we don't like), we're acting just the same way as the people in Washington.

    15. BAMorris, Raleigh, N says:

      Senators used to be "accountable to the state legislators" now they are elected by popular vote and accountable to no one!

      It would be great if taxpayers were more knowledgeable and involved the the political process, but I think most people struggle to make a living for their families and make it to their next paycheck to police their elected officials. Besides, I have taken the time to read bills in congress and they are written in a language that is not understandable by an outsider (and I'm not convinced they are understandable by the legislators either). Even with their extensive staffs I cannot get answers from my representatives about why they vote the way they do. When I talk to my state legislators looking for their help I find that we have a mini-Washington D.C. here in Raleigh. Even the Governor tells me that the state has no influence over our federal representatives.

      We have a ship and a rudder, but apparently nobody at the helm that knows what they are doing or cares.

    16. Dennis Social Circle says:

      We can recall the people in Congress, VOTE THEM OUT IN THE NEXT ELECTION, THEN DEMAND THAT TERM LIMITS BE STARTED WITH THEIR TERM.

    17. Bill Walker says:

      First of all the expulsion clause is useless in this case. The infection is too wide spread and the possibility of getting two-thirds to vote to expel is impossible. That's why it went out of use.

      So what does this leave? Well, obviously the author did not do his homework. If he had he would have mentioned that at an Article V Convention, the application to have an initiative, referendum, recall amendment would be considered. The obvious effect of this amendment on the Congress needs no further comment.

      The fact is all 50 states long ago saw this problem with the national government and have submitted 750 applications most aimed at correcting issues such as the author discusses. The number of applications is some 20 times the number required by the Constitution to call a convention but Congress has refused to obey the Constitution and call the convention. The texts of the applications, in the form of photographic copies of government records, can be read at http://www.foavc.org.

    18. Benjamin, New Jersey says:

      Of course, the power of the Senate when originally crafted was far less than it is now. All very well to say you have to wait for election day when they can't do much damage until then, but now our country could be completely ruined in that time.

      But, as you said, it *was* a progressive idea (which almost always undermined the institutions of a Republic), so you've sold me. Repeal the 17th (and take away some of the Senates power).

    19. A Go California says:

      Just to have more knowledge. Where is recall different from impeachment? Thanks.

    20. Bruce, Philadelphia says:

      To correct a statement by Dick from Houston – there IS a Constitutional method for a judge to be removed, viz., by impeachment & conviction (just as with a President).

      As for Senators or Representatives, it is at least sometimes possible for them to be pressured to resign amidst or following criminal proceedings… though it appears these days that ONLY works with Republicans, since the Democratic Party does not hold its members accountable in the same way the GOP generally does.

      On the process – sorry, I don't see us repealing the 17th amendment anytime soon. But I'm not altogether sure it is a correct reading of the Constitutional debates to see the method of their election as the main distinction the Founders were trying to establish between the two houses. Certainly the 'equal representation' from each state and longer terms to protect Senators from sudden populist surges & encourage thoughtful deliberation were more important concerns.

      And is there any perfect selection method to help realize these concerns? (It is foolish to deny the real history of corruption, political machines, etc in various state governments, so let's not pretend state legislatures are THE perfect expression of proper state interests.) In fact, certain Senate TRADITIONS – including, yes, the filibuster – HAVE helped to 'slow the legislative process down' so that we don't hastily jump to make radical changes on the basis of a temporary majority. These two (as ALL processes) may be abused (consider the Democrats expanding it to judicial appointments), but haven't we been reminded just this past year how they can indeed accomplish that intent?

    21. Matthew, SC says:

      Rather than repeal the 17th Amendment, I would like to see each state get an additional Senator. That Senator would be elected by the state legislatures. Thus the Senate would be 2/3 popular, 1/3

      There are a few reasons I would like the Senate mixed up like this. First, you avoid the accusation of disenfranchising voters. Second, I do not for one instant trust state legislatures to avoid corruption. Lastly, House districts are remapped by computers every 10 years, there is a role in our Congress for pure directly elected repsentation based solely on geography.

    22. Jim N, Indiana says:

      Since our congressmen passed a law requiring us to change from incandescent to cfl bulbs next year, I'm pressing the slogan: Change congressmen, not light bulbs! for my battle cry.

    23. Ron Thompson says:

      Lloyd Scallan, if I read it right Louisiana is one of 18 states that have recall capabilties. Your state Constitution has an amendment as to how it is done. I live in as state that has two of the biggest losers in the Senate, and do nothing but vote the party line in everything. they can't read along with can't hear! Like all Liberals they only listen to the people in their own little clik, and the rest of us "little people" have to go along with what ever they think is best for us! get all of them out!

    24. zegarek says:

      How about serving in Congress on a part time basis, meaning, convening only when in session ? There is such idea going around here in California.

    25. Mietek, Martinez, ca says:

      How about serving in Congress on a part time basis, meaning, convening only when in session. Such idea is going around in California.

    26. Richard, New Orleans says:

      Adopting the 17th Amendment is one of the worst things the states of this nation have ever done. I'd say it's much more destructive to our foundation and the design of our founding fathers than prohibition ever could have been. It completely emasculates the carefully thought out system of checks and balances.

      It needs to be repealed, quickly, before this great nation goes down the tubes.

    27. Douglas Forrester says:

      Why stop with repeal of the 17th Amendment? I propose an Amendment 28:

      "All previous Amendments to the Constitution are hereby repealed.

      "Neither Congress nor the Supreme Court shall not have the authority to reinstate the provisions of any of them without following the Amendment process in Article V of the Constitution.

      This Amendment applies only to future laws of Congress and decisions of the federal courts.

      This Amendment shall not have the effect of superseding any existing laws or any overriding any previous decisions of the Supreme Court. But each body may legislate such changes to existing laws or decisions in the future as they deem meet to the welfare of the nation and its people."

    28. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      States with the Initiative Process can always make an Ammedment to their own State's Constitution by popular vote, or the State's Congress can draft a Bill to bring it to a Public vote.

      If 33 States call for a Continential Convention, then each State can elect 3 representatives to meet at a chosen place and with a 75% 'YES' vote, can add Amendments to the United States Constitution.

      This is a much better way that a Continental Congress, where you have Politicians deciding what to add, and what to enforce, and what to pay, and what powers to give.

      The United States was, and is designed to be represented by volunteer Representatives and Senators and Presidents, and Judges, NOT PROFESSIONALS!

      Term limits, even with its obvious problems, would be a very good step in the correct direction.

    29. Pete, AZ says:

      It would be nice to be able to recall some U.S. Representatives but that would undermine the vote of the people, be it good or bad, possibly by some that did not exercise their right to vote. Leave the Constitution alone.

    30. Regina Groves Van Bu says:

      I would like to ask how to go about getting the 17th admaendment repealed.

      It has come to the point trusted servant now means we serve the government ,

      Trusted Servants are no longer trusted and no longer has the interest of the American People at heart.

      They are looking for a National Socialist or Marxist

      either way it is a government that is out to make us a Third world Country

      Obama has destroyed more in a Years than previous Presidents and this is with intent.

      The States need to seek Soveintery and cede out of the Union and back to the republic before you are overcome with SEIU right to work

      We need to remember it is We the People and not We the government.

      George Soros destroyed France and the UK and he is the Puppetmaster behind Obama.

      He has made more off the U.S as they dismantle it and destroy Capitalism and Democracy .

      SO I ask Heritedge the government that is the most corrupt I have ever seen and I have been here awhile ,stop these officials because they are not going to give up power

    31. Joe, PA says:

      The ultimate fallback position is the 2nd Amendment, the "reset button" on the Constitution… the framers created it for "when all else fails" (my paraphrasing)…

    32. Regina Groves Van Bu says:

      Can U.S. Senators Be Recalled?

      Posted February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm in First Principles, Ongoing Priorities with 24 comments Print This Post

      In Arizona, Louisiana and a few other states, well-meaning citizens would like to recall their U.S senators. Fair enough. But while this opinion represents a commendable movement to make Congress more accountable for its actions, it tramples on the U.S. Constitution and undermines the rule of law.

      Contrary to popular Web sites, the recall of members of the U.S. Congress has never been permissible according to the Constitution, and no member of the Congress has ever been removed by such means. That’s because the U.S. Constitution sets the qualifications and terms for being a member of the House or Senate; changing those qualifications or terms (as in making them subject to a recall) is unconstitutional and would require a constitutional amendment.

      Recall is not a new idea. At the Constitutional Convention, the Framers considered and rejected a national recall provision. Recall was raised again as an amendment in New York, but the 1788 ratifying convention defeated it. Why? Because the Constitutional structure held senators accountable. Originally, senators were elected by the state legislatures and were responsible to their state for their actions. At the same time, the Framers wanted to bring deliberation to the national legislature and sought to protect lawmaking from the whim of passion and majority faction. If legislators are constantly under the threat of instant recall, they will never be sure of their step, for fear of some impulse of the moment. So the Constitution creates a bicameral legislature–with the House subject to the changing sentiments of opinion, and the Senate, with its longer terms, bringing stability and deliberation.

      These considerations, however, should not lead us to believe the Framers did not provide a way to remove bad legislators. The Constitution contains an expulsion clause for members of Congress, though it has widely been neglected since the Civil War cases of disloyalty. The most effective means of removal is still election: if a member of Congress does not do their work well, then don’t return them to office.

      Some confusion about recall is understandable. During the Progressive era, recalls were instituted for state and local officers across the nation. To be clear, these changes did not apply to federal officers (i.e. senators, representatives, judges). In 1908, Michigan and Oregon became the first states include recall in their state constitutions. Eighteen states currently continue this progressive legacy.

      It was also the Progressive movement that undermined the Senate’s role in protecting the states. The 17th Amendment made a fundamental change in the structure of our federal system when it was ratified in 1913. U.S. Senators, who were intended to represent the states and give an account to their state legislatures, are now popularly elected. Those who want to make the Senate once again accountable to the states would do well to consider reversing that change for the good of the Constitution.

      Benjamin Shelton currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

      Tags: Arizona, congress, constitution, Constitutional Convention, framers, Louisiana, recall, Senators, U.S. Constitution, U.S. Senate

      Author:

      Benjamin Shelton

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      Trey, Texas on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      A better reform to hold Senators accountable would be to repeal the 17th Amendment.

      http://repealthe17th.ning.com/

      MarkV on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Benjamin,

      Would it be your suggestion and that of the Heritage Foundation to push for repealing the 17th Amendment? I ask because the article is leading, but without conclusion.

      R. George Dunn on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Too bad we couldn’t waive a wand and all of the 1913 Congressional actions be eliminated.

      Ozzy6900 on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      The Founders were correct in not having a recall for Senators but also, we must remember that back then, the Senate and Congress were not FULL TIME JOBS! They were called to meet as it became necessary, other times, they were back in their States. Under these conditions, there was more accountability than there is today because the Representatives had to “face” their constituents on a regular basis. Today, our representatives are “lost” in Washington Politics and rarely come back to their States unless it is an election year.

      While I am not in favor of recall and agree with the removal of the 17th Amendment (pure BS), there has to be some accountability to the now full time jobs of the Senate and Congress. We as voters must learn to pay more attention to the people we elect and if they are not doing what we want, we must get rid of them at the next election. Not keep putting them back just because they are fixtures; aka Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy.

      Todd on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      MarkV is right the article is very well written and informative but doesn’t close with any substance as to where Heritage leans. Albeit repealing the 17th would be good in many ways I think the underlying issues it would cause would perhaps outweigh them. The best thing we can do for now is get the word out and ensure everyone knows the true importance of election day. We need to move past the “my vote doesn’t count” mentality. The truth is all votes count and the need to go to the polls is more and more important as our society moves further into the future. The world is getting smaller and faster with technology and an alarming birthrate. This is why we need the right people in the right places making the hard tough decisions for the better if not we’re going to be left behind.

      Just A Point of View

      dick, houston, tx on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      It seems odd to me that we have a means to recall/oust a President (executive)

      but not for the other two branches of the government. Likewise we are concerned

      mightily by qualification for the Judicial and Legislative branch candidates but

      not for the executive. What office in our federal government is responsible for

      vetting candidates legal qualifications for the office they seek ?

      chyatt albuquerque on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Forget the constitution. Leave it intact. Recall your representative in 2010 and finish the job in 2012. If politicans want to know how to get elected or re-elected its simple, control the spending. In absence of this, thier jobs, just like ours are at risk. What tax payers are to learn out of the last few years is that you should keep a close eye on your money and your politicians.

      Lwesson, Tejas on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Ozzy6900 has a valid point in noting how our representatives are “lost” in Washington Politics. Senators seem like Roman Deities that only flirt with the mortals if need be, (elections) and then back to the golden clouds. That “representation” has become a full time job of security, entitlement, riches, and isolation from the smelly masses of the clamoring public. From what I see of the Senate, there is nearly a sneering contempt for the voting masses and mealy mouthed lies are made for reelection for a sadly tuned voting public.

      Removing the 17th Amendment is fine. What no one here has mentioned is that the Founders had a historically articulated real fear that The Public would undermine the Republic by eventually finding that, they The Public, could vote themselves the largess, the wealth of the nation thus creating countless hucksters that would step into the breach to be the “delivery agents” so to speak for the covetous People. The Senate was to be a level headed, thoughtful and isolated from The People, a branch of representatives that would counter the more brash and public opinion driven Congressional branch.

      The Progressives were insidious in undoing the thoughtful protective works of The Founders as they are today. Progressive towards what direction without any introspection as to what will come of the CHANGE? Actually, the hidden agenda of The Progressives is not so hidden save for the nicety of the name. The good things that they have done mask the undercurrent of bad things that they have and want to do. Any good con-artist knows this! America take heart! We have some of the best con men and women in the World!

      Lloyd Scallan – New Orleans area on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      So, I’m (and most of Louisiana) is stuck with Mary Landrieu until 2014? That’s absurd! By 2014 we may not have the Constitution, let alone the 17th admendent. The majorty of the citizens of Louisiana want Landrieu gone. But because of ACORN, welfare recipients, and other such voter fraud groups, their is no guarantee that she can be voted out then.

      As a matter of fact, ACORN is the major reason Landrieu was re-elected in 2002. In that election, fraudulent voters testified at a federal trail that they voted as many as 5 times, was paid for each vote, and bussed to the polls. But a liberal judge felt those testimonies were NOT enough to throw out the election results and order a new election. How do we fight that type of injustice?

      In the latest Obamacare buy-off, Landrieu not only extorted 300 million, but in addtion, part of the deal was for the DNC fund her brother’s campagin for mayor of New Orleans. Because of the 17th admendment, millions of citizens are

      helpless to save our country from Obama and his lackeys.

      Daverino Ft. Worth on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Systems that inherently align rewards with goals are always the most successful. Unfortunately in today’s world, rewards lie with party loyalty rather than the state’s goals. Changing back to a state selection system might improve the accountability slightly, but could also have dubious results in notoriously partisan or corrupt states like Illinois.

      Also having Senators on board for 6 years might want to be re-thought as well? The age of the internet and jet travel has eliminated some of the “freshman” growth curve and if we seek a less “professional” class of rulers in general–than either shortening terms or strict term limits might be a good start toward fostering the right mentality for our leaders.

      Joe Ruffino, New York on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      I can think of a number of Senators that could be recalled using the same provisions as used during the Civil War. This would be disloyality. I would start with the two NY Senators, the guy from Illinois and while we are at it the President occupant of the Whilte House. He swore to uphold the Constitution. It looks like all he wants to do is change it.

      Thomas Given Northport Al 35473 on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Obviously,carrer politions are the problem. I would propose a 4 term limit in the House and a 2 term limit in the Senate. 20 years is enough time for the public to endure any scoundrel.

      Michelle Gray, Oakland, CA on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      You think the California legislature is capable of making a rational choice of Senators? Are you kidding me? They would select a termed-out crony who couldn’t get an honest job. The Framers did a brilliant job of setting up our government, but when I read the arguments they made that state governments would make the wisest choices of Senators, I have to laugh.

      Brad, Chicago on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Maybe the public will finally learn something from this. If we have an instant solution, it doesn’t matter who you vote in, because you can remove them at any time. The inability to remove a senator, now that we want to, should teach us how important it is to know who we’re voting for and to vote, period. If we only vote when it’s convenient for us (i.e. we want to remove a senator we don’t like), we’re acting just the same way as the people in Washington.

      BAMorris, Raleigh, NC on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Senators used to be “accountable to the state legislators” now they are elected by popular vote and accountable to no one!

      It would be great if taxpayers were more knowledgeable and involved the the political process, but I think most people struggle to make a living for their families and make it to their next paycheck to police their elected officials. Besides, I have taken the time to read bills in congress and they are written in a language that is not understandable by an outsider (and I’m not convinced they are understandable by the legislators either). Even with their extensive staffs I cannot get answers from my representatives about why they vote the way they do. When I talk to my state legislators looking for their help I find that we have a mini-Washington D.C. here in Raleigh. Even the Governor tells me that the state has no influence over our federal representatives.

      We have a ship and a rudder, but apparently nobody at the helm that knows what they are doing or cares.

      Dennis Social Circle Ga. on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      We can recall the people in Congress, VOTE THEM OUT IN THE NEXT ELECTION, THEN DEMAND THAT TERM LIMITS BE STARTED WITH THEIR TERM.

      Bill Walker on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      First of all the expulsion clause is useless in this case. The infection is too wide spread and the possibility of getting two-thirds to vote to expel is impossible. That’s why it went out of use.

      So what does this leave? Well, obviously the author did not do his homework. If he had he would have mentioned that at an Article V Convention, the application to have an initiative, referendum, recall amendment would be considered. The obvious effect of this amendment on the Congress needs no further comment.

      The fact is all 50 states long ago saw this problem with the national government and have submitted 750 applications most aimed at correcting issues such as the author discusses. The number of applications is some 20 times the number required by the Constitution to call a convention but Congress has refused to obey the Constitution and call the convention. The texts of the applications, in the form of photographic copies of government records, can be read at http://www.foavc.org.

      Benjamin, New Jersey on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Of course, the power of the Senate when originally crafted was far less than it is now. All very well to say you have to wait for election day when they can’t do much damage until then, but now our country could be completely ruined in that time.

      But, as you said, it *was* a progressive idea (which almost always undermined the institutions of a Republic), so you’ve sold me. Repeal the 17th (and take away some of the Senates power).

      A Go California on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Just to have more knowledge. Where is recall different from impeachment? Thanks.

      Bruce, Philadelphia on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      To correct a statement by Dick from Houston – there IS a Constitutional method for a judge to be removed, viz., by impeachment & conviction (just as with a President).

      As for Senators or Representatives, it is at least sometimes possible for them to be pressured to resign amidst or following criminal proceedings… though it appears these days that ONLY works with Republicans, since the Democratic Party does not hold its members accountable in the same way the GOP generally does.

      On the process – sorry, I don’t see us repealing the 17th amendment anytime soon. But I’m not altogether sure it is a correct reading of the Constitutional debates to see the method of their election as the main distinction the Founders were trying to establish between the two houses. Certainly the ‘equal representation’ from each state and longer terms to protect Senators from sudden populist surges & encourage thoughtful deliberation were more important concerns.

      And is there any perfect selection method to help realize these concerns? (It is foolish to deny the real history of corruption, political machines, etc in various state governments, so let’s not pretend state legislatures are THE perfect expression of proper state interests.) In fact, certain Senate TRADITIONS – including, yes, the filibuster – HAVE helped to ’slow the legislative process down’ so that we don’t hastily jump to make radical changes on the basis of a temporary majority. These two (as ALL processes) may be abused (consider the Democrats expanding it to judicial appointments), but haven’t we been reminded just this past year how they can indeed accomplish that intent?

      Matthew, SC on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Rather than repeal the 17th Amendment, I would like to see each state get an additional Senator. That Senator would be elected by the state legislatures. Thus the Senate would be 2/3 popular, 1/3

      There are a few reasons I would like the Senate mixed up like this. First, you avoid the accusation of disenfranchising voters. Second, I do not for one instant trust state legislatures to avoid corruption. Lastly, House districts are remapped by computers every 10 years, there is a role in our Congress for pure directly elected repsentation based solely on geography.

      Jim N, Indiana on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Since our congressmen passed a law requiring us to change from incandescent to cfl bulbs next year, I’m pressing the slogan: Change congressmen, not light bulbs! for my battle cry.

      Ron Thompson on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Lloyd Scallan, if I read it right Louisiana is one of 18 states that have recall capabilties. Your state Constitution has an amendment as to how it is done. I live in as state that has two of the biggest losers in the Senate, and do nothing but vote the party line in everything. they can’t read along with can’t hear! Like all Liberals they only listen to the people in their own little clik, and the rest of us “little people” have to go along with what ever they think is best for us! get all of them out!

      zegarek on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      How about serving in Congress on a part time basis, meaning, convening only when in session ? There is such idea going around here in California.

      Regina Groves Van Buren Ar. on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:05pm said:

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      I would like to ask how to go about getting the 17th admaendment repealed.

      It has come to the point trusted servant now means we serve the government ,

      Trusted Servants are no longer trusted and no longer has the interest of the American People at heart.

      They are looking for a National Socialist or Marxist

      either way it is a government that is out to make us a Third world Country

      Obama has destroyed more in a Years than previous Presidents and this is with intent.

      The States need to seek Soveintery and cede out of the Union and back to the republic before you are overcome with SEIU right to work

      We need to remember it is We the People and not We the government.

      George Soros destroyed France and the UK and he is the Puppetmaster behind Obama.

      He has made more off the U.S as they dismantle it and destroy Capitalism and Democracy .

      SO I ask Heritedge the government that is the most corrupt I have ever seen and I have been here awhile ,stop these officials because they are not going to give up power

    33. Bonnie Shelton says:

      Well written, Ben.

    34. Sarah Carroll-Valder says:

      I agree with the article plus I would like to see term limits included.

      The one common thread with all the states is our Language..would like to

      see English become the official language of the United States of America.

    35. Sam, Green Bay says:

      Although term limits would have gone a long way to preventing much of the corruption we now deal with, I am not entirely sure that it will result in more accountability. After all, there are elected officials who would face reelection this, were it not for them bowing out, and many of those officials voted for Obamacare. With groups like ACORN around, there could be even fewer officials who care about what they legislate, especially if ACORN gives them a great deal in exchange for passing whatever legislation they want.

    36. Pingback: Why 59 > 60 for Senate Democrats « Babel Frog

    37. Frank Tilton, Indian says:

      The solution to the failings of our Congress (both houses) is actually much simpler than "recall" and is fully within the bounds of our Constitution. We — all of us — have the opportunity now to CHANGE what needs urgently to be changed. How? ELECT NO INCUMBENTS! That is how we can bring about term limits. Now! And we can do this without amending the Constitution. We have known for too many years what is wrong with "our" government. Yet, we have continued to re-elect those whose chief purpose is to be re-elected. I am ready now to enact term limits. Are you? Elect no incumbents. Now. First in the primaries, then in November. And do so again in 2012. Elect no incumbents. You and I have the capacity to do what others promise! We can change Washington. ELECT NO INCUMBENTS!

    38. Willam says:

      Recall unconstitutional? What about the Right of Revolution in the Declaration of Independence? Does that have to refer merely to force of arms? I think NOT. Here is a novel approach to Recall based on the Declaration of Independence: – that whenever ANY form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the RIGHT of the PEOPLE to alter or abolish it. How else does one alter or abolish and oppressive government if not by altering or abolishing the bad actors who implement it? Please note We the People may do this "whenever" needed. Not just during an election cycle. Here is a website promoting the idea of Recall based on the Dec of Ind. Thank you. http://www.avoiceofthepeople.com Natural Rights trumps the Constitution, in my humble opinion!

    39. Willam says:

      Recall is unconstitutional? What about the Right of Revolution in the Declaration of Independence? Does that have to refer merely to force of arms? I think not. Here is a novel approach to Recall based on the Declaration of Independence: – that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it. How else does one alter or abolish and oppressive government if not by altering or abolishing the bad actors who implement it? Please note We the People may do this "whenever" needed. Not just during an election cycle. Here is a website promoting the idea of Recall based on the Dec of Ind. Thank you. http://www.avoiceofthepeople.com Natural Rights trumps the Constitution, in my humble opinion!

    40. Laurel LaFramboise says:

      I hear a lot of talk but no action plan. I developed a website based on an idea I have for the 2010 elections: http://www.voteKISS.org. We can change the federal government by changing the way we vote: not by party platform but by issue platform.

      Think tanks like the Heritage Foundation draft a constitutional amendment (if necessary) and/or bill that will solve our most pressing problems. Candidates for office sign a contract with voters to ONLY pass that legislation AS WRITTEN; once passed, they must look to a voter referendum for their next move. Voters listen to ISSUE debates, read the ACTUAL BILLS (which better be in understandable English and brief) and vote for that which they feel is most important. It's time to realize that if we want this government to be for WE THE PEOPLE we've got to trust the people to make the right decisions for themselves.

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