September 2, 2010

Repeal the 17th Amendment?

In 1787, George Mason called on his fellow delegates at the Constitutional Convention to let state legislators elect U.S. Senators as a check on the power of the new federal government. Mason's idea prevailed, and for more than 100 years, the people elected their U.S. Representatives and state legislators elected U.S. Senators.

But in the early 1900s, Idaho's Senator William Borah sponsored efforts to reform the Constitution and called for direct election of U.S. Senators. In 1913, the United States passed Borah's plan with the adoption of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

Today, Idaho Republicans want to undo Borah's reforms. They have voted to repeal the 17th Amendment as part of their party platform.

What does this mean for Idaho? Should the state vote to rescind the 17th Amendment? Host Joan Cartan-Hansen is joined supporters and opponents of such a plan: State Representative Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, State Senator Elliot Werk, D-Boise, and David Adler, Director of the University of Idaho's James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research.