Political Theory

The Seventeenth Amendment: Its Impact on Federalism, Democracy, and American Political Institutions


This conference examined the original reasoning for having federal senators selected by the states, the intellectual and political forces that led to the approval of the Seventeenth Amendment, which established direct popular election of senators, and the impact of this change on American politics, political institutions, and society more generally.


From Liberty Fund

The Federalist

by By Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison
Edited by George W. Carey and James McClellan

The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, constitutes a text central to the American political tradition. Written and published in newspapers in 1787 and 1788 to explain and promote ratification of the proposed Constitution for the United States, which were then bound by the Articles of Confederation,…

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Additional Readings

Kurland, Philip B. and Ralph Lerner, eds. The Founders' Constitution, Volume 2: Preamble through Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2000.

United States Congress. The Congressional Record. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1873-Present.

Amar, Vikram David. “Indirect Effects of Direct Election: A Structural Examination of the Seventeenth Amendment.” Vanderbilt Law Review 49, no. 6 (November 1996): 1348-1405.

Brooks, Roger G. “Garcia, the Seventeenth Amendment, and the Role of the Supreme Court in Defending Federalism.” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (Winter 1987): 189-211.

Bybee, Jay S. “Ulysses at the Mast: Democracy, Federalism, and the Sirens’ Song of the Seventeenth Amendment.” Northwestern University Law Review 91, no. 2 (Winter 1997): 500-571.

Crook, Sara Brandes and John R. Hibbing. “A Not-so-distant Mirror: the 17th Amendment and Congressional Change.” American Political Science Review 91, no. 4 (December 1997): 845-853.

Hoar, George F. Election of Senators By Direct Vote of the People (Senate Document 232, 59th Congress). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906.

Hoebeke, C. H. The Road to Mass Democracy: Original Intent and the Seventeenth Amendment. Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1995.

Kyvig, David E. Explicit and Authentic Acts: Amending the U. S. Constitution, 1776-1995. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1996.

Riker, William H. “The Senate and American Federalism.” American Political Science Review 49, no. 2 (June 1955): 452-469.

Rossum, Ralph. Federalism, the Supreme Court, and the Seventeenth Amendment. Lanham Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001.

Zywicki, Todd J. “Beyond the Shell and Husk of History: The History of the Seventeenth Amendment and Its Implications for Current Reform Proposals.” Cleveland State Law Review 45 (1997): 165-234.