The original Constitution created a check and balance within the legislative branch: a bicameral legislature with each house going through a different selection process. The House of Representatives was elected by the people and represented the people. The Senate, on the other hand, was appointed by the states and represented the states. Senators were not directly elected by the people of the states, the way they are today.
This provided a strategy for states to protect themselves from an ever encroaching federal government. How? By providing a means for the states to exercise influence or even control over their senators. When senators were elected by their state legislatures, they were also instructed by those legislatures how to vote. There was a constant communication between the state legislature and the senators. If they did not vote according to the state legislature’s instructions, they were removed.
In Federalist no. 45 James Madison wrote that because the Senate would be elected by the state legislatures, it “will owe its existence more or less to the favor of the State Governments, and must consequently feel a dependence.” Therefore, the Senate “would be disinclined to invade the rights of the individual States, or the prerogatives of their governments.” How far we have strayed from this important concept and how greatly we are suffering as a result!
States’ rights and state sovereignty died an ignominious death with the passage of the 17th Amendment which allowed United States Senators to be elected by the people. The original Constitution protected states rights by impeding the ability of senators to sell their votes to special-interest groups. As Thomas DiLorenzo stated, “After all, senators who went to Washington and voted against the interests of their home-state constituents could and would be replaced on short notice by their state legislatures . . .”
Today our senators are bought and sold by special interest groups who make it difficult to remove senators from office. Senators often feel little allegiance to their states. As a result, we have replaced state sovereignty with an out of control federal government.