A North Idaho Republican leader has a bone to pick with his own party. He doesn't like a plank in the state GOP platform that calls for the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Simply put, the 17th Amendment empowers citizens to vote directly for their U.S. senators. Without it, state legislators would be the ones to select members of the U.S. Senate.
The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Coeur d'Alene Precinct Committeeman Matt Roetter is set to submit a resolution to his central committee this coming Tuesday, Nov. 26, to push back against his own party's plan to repeal the 17th Amendment.
"I don't like that," said Roetter. "I want to protect the right of the voters to select their own senators."
The original provisions of the Constitution allowed state legislatures the authority to choose senators as an effort to prevent the federal government from "absconding" powers of the states. But several high-profile instances of alleged corruption triggered the effort for change, led by reformers such as Secretary of State Williams Jennings Bryan. Ultimately, the 17th Amendment was adopted in May 1913.
Roetter pointed to what he called one of the most corrupt elections in U.S. history, according to the Press. A so-called "copper king," named William Clark, worth an estimated $50 million in 1899, bribed his way into office.
"He paid each legislator up to $10,000 each to vote him him," Roetter told the Press.
Roetter's resolution would also prevent his central committee from endorsing any candidate who supports the repeal of the 17th Amendment.
The 17th Amendment reads as follows:
"The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution."