Right-wingers love to interpret the Constitution as they see fit. The 1st amendment protects religion, as long as that religion is Christianity. The 2nd amendment was written by God himself and needs no interpretation. The 10th amendment allows states to toss Federal law aside if they don’t like it, and the 14th amendment is the crazy sister locked in the attic that nobody should talk about, since it supersedes the 10th.
The latest constitutional “corruption” opposed by the constituency of crazy comes in the form of a lawsuit out of Texas (go figure), claiming that the 17th amendment, taking election of the senate from state legislatures and giving it to the people, was never properly ratified and therefore is null and void.
The proposed amendment, passed by congress in 1912 and ratified by thirty-six states in 1913, was formally declared by Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, officially making it the 17th amendment. Executive action isn’t required in the ratification of an amendment.
The lawsuit claims that two states, California and Wisconsin, never properly ratified the amendment.
Devvy Kidd, conservative blogger and author of the lawsuit, says that Wisconsin changed some of the text before ratifying, and that California never actually voted.
The reality is that Wisconsin observes the 17th amendment as written regardless of any changes it may have suggested, and while conservatives contend that nobody can find the actual vote by California to ratify, nobody can find any reason to believe California didn’t ratify, especially since the state itself hasn’t offered any resistance. They seem content to accept that they did in fact ratify in 1913.
There is no time limit on ratification of an amendment. The amendment becomes a part of our Constitution when three quarters of the states ratify. In many cases, after ratification, remaining states have been content to abstain, since an amendment becomes the law of the land regardless of their decision at that point. In the case of the 17th amendment, five states ratified after its adoption, bringing the number of states ratifying to forty-one.
The motive behind the lawsuit is clear. If the 17th amendment was tossed out by the federal judiciary, the landscape of the current senate would change dramatically. In a study conducted by the National Constitution Center, under the rules set forth by article V of the Constitution, Republicans would hold fifty-eight seats in the senate, Democrats forty-one, with one seat deadlocked. Republicans would be just 2 votes short of the super-majority needed to overcome the filibuster rule.
The underlying elephant in the room, pun intended, is that if it were ruled that the 17th amendment was invalid, every senate after 1913 and every law passed since then would also be invalid.
Consider the ramifications of that. Having gerrymandered their way to a red house of representatives and stolen the senate, the Republican Party would be one presidential election away from being able to rewrite one hundred plus years of federal law.
Until then our country would be deadlocked and in a state of perpetual lawlessness. Social Security would cease to exist. Tax code would disappear. Wall Street and corporate America would be free from a century of common sense regulation and the environment would go unprotected. The Civil Rights Act. Public assistance. All international treaties. The list is far too long for a single article.
No worries, though. Certainly the Republican-led congress would act with the same air of fairness and equality they are so well-known for.