Add to GoodReads

Federalism, the Supreme Court, and the Seventeenth Amendment

The Irony of Constitutional Democracy

Ralph A. Rossum

Abraham Lincoln worried that the "walls" of the constitution would ultimately be leveled by the "silent artillery of time." His fears materialized with the 1913 ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, which, by eliminating federalism's structural protection, altered the very nature and meaning of federalism. Ralph A. Rossum's provocative new book considers the forces unleashed by an amendment to install the direct election of U.S. Senators. Far from expecting federalism to be protected by an activist court, the Framers, Rossum argues, expected the constitutional structure, particularly the election of the Senate by state legislatures, to sustain it. In Federalism, the Supreme Court, and the Seventeenth Amendment Rossum challenges the fundamental jurisprudential assumptions about federalism. He also provides a powerful indictment of the controversial federalist decisions recently handed down by an activist U.S. Supreme Court seeking to fill the gap created by the Seventeenth Amendment's ratification and protect the original federal design.

Rossum's masterful handling of the development of federalism restores the true significance to an amendment previously consigned to the footnotes of history. It demonstrates how the original federal design has been amended out of existence; the interests of states as states abandoned and federalism left unprotected, both structurally and democratically. It highlights the ultimate irony of constitutional democracy: that an amendment intended to promote democracy, even at the expense of federalism, has been undermined by an activist court intent on protecting federalism, at the expense of democracy.
« less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 312Size: 6 x 9 1/8
978-0-7391-0285-5 • Hardback • September 2001 • $114.00 • (£75.00)
978-0-7391-0286-2 • Paperback • November 2001 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
978-0-7391-5499-1 • eBook • September 2001 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
Ralph A. Rossum is Director of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government and Professor of American Constitutionalism at Claremont McKenna College. He is author of seven books, including American Constitutional Law, (with G. Alan Tarr).
Chapter 1 The Supreme Court, Judicial Activism, and the Protection of Federalism
Chapter 2 Constitutional Structure, Federalism, and the Securing of Liberty
Chapter 3 How the Framers Protected Federalism
Chapter 4 The Senate's Protection of Federalism in the First Congress
Chapter 5 Marshall's Understanding of the Original Federal Design
Chapter 6 Altering the Original Federal Design: The Adoption and Ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment
Chapter 7 The Supreme Court's Attempts to Protect the Original Federal Design
Dr. Rossum abundantly documents in this readable book what many have intuitively felt, that the Seventeenth Amendment was a cosmic betrayal of the Constitution. It must be repealed if limited government is ever to be restored.
Charles E. Rice, Notre Dame Law School

Ralph Rossum presents us with an arresting thesis. By providing a new perspective on the role of the courts in dealing with the recurring issues surrounding the Framers' vision of federalism, it is bound to engender debate of the highest order in the years to come. It will prove especially challenging for those of my persuasion who would like to check the growing centralization of power in Washington.
George W. Carey, Georgetown University

Raplh Rossum...offers a series of provocative theses that relate directly to federalism. . . . Rossum writes gracefully and authoritatively. He draws on familiar principles, like the virtues of an extended commercial republic, checks and balances, and the operation of self-interests.
Publius: The Journal of Federalism

Ralph Rossum's illuminating study of the Seventeenth Amendment will prompt many scholars of law and politics to rethink their understandings of the Supreme Court's role in protecting federalism. This is a timely and important book.
Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See