THE BLOG

To Be Rid Of The Senate, Amend The Constitution - Here's How

12/24/2010 11:08 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Proposed Amendment to the Constitution:
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"There shall be no Senate and all references to that body in the constitution shall henceforth be deemed null and void including that in Article V. All duties and obligations previously reserved to the Senate and not specifically detailed in this Amendment shall be the province of the House. Impeachment, where and when applicable, shall be voted by the House with trial by a panel of Special Masters to be appointed by the Supreme Court in a manner they see fit, except that trial upon impeachment of the President or Vice President shall be by the Supreme Court only. All impeachment convictions shall require confirmation by a 70% majority of the entire House."
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In the manner detailed above, and in accordance with such an Amendment to the Constitution, we can be rid of the Senate altogether and with it the abuses to our democracy which have so highlighted the proceedings of that outdated and now useless body of the legislature.

Many may point to the wide range of federal offices that now require Senate confirmation and worry that the House may be ill prepared to handle that responsibility without excessive partisanship. After all, that includes every public office from sub-cabinet officials to federal judges to Generals and Admirals in the military. No such worries need to be of concern. Such a change will incur no constitutional crisis. The Constitution has never mandated Senate confirmation. The Congress has always been able - by law - to grant the President exclusive powers of appointment without the need for any legislative confirmation. See the key section below: "but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments."
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Art. II Sec. 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
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There is no scared meaning to Senate confirmation. It is, as we have all been witness to, principally posture and puffery. And there is no need to fear an unfettered President appointing cronies and incompetents without checks and balances. Congress "may by law" give the Chief Executive "alone" such appointment powers while still retaining the right to reverse any such appointment by a 70% vote of the entire House.

Why the 70% figure for both confirmation of impeachment convictions and reversal of Presidential appointees? Back in 1913, in addition to the awful error of empowering the direct election of senators, we also froze our House of Representatives at 435 members. There was no reason for this freeze and no history to justify it. In fact, we had previously increased the size of the House 26 times in the years between its initial establishment in 1790 and the freeze of now nearly 100 years enacted in 1913. If we are to have a perpetual 435 member House, and if that House is to overturn a conviction upon impeachment or reverse a Presidential appointment, it seems likely that few if any could object to such House action provided at least 300 members voted in support. The 70% figure insures that more than 300 House members (305 exactly) would have to vote to make such a reversal real. This would surely eliminate any strictly partisan divides since no single political party has controlled 70% of the House since the 54th Congress in 1895. Despite the ebb and flow of support back and forth from Democrats to Republicans, throughout the entire 20th century neither party was ever able to elect 70% of the House. Thus, it stands to reason that any House voting by 70% or more to overturn an impeachment conviction or to deny confirmation to a Presidential appointee would appear to be expressing the will of the American people.

In the end - the end of the US Senate that is - we would be rid of the gross offense of a single senator representing a few hundred thousand voters personally, even anonymously, preventing the federal government from operating in a normal manner to serve more than 308 million Americans. We would also be free from a cabal of small-state senators using the Rules of Proceeding in the Senate to thwart the widespread general public will and the agenda of a President elected with tens of millions of votes by the whole country.

We do not need a Senate. Certainly not a tyrannical one. Not anymore. The time is now to be rid of it. The way to accomplish this is by the adoption of a new Constitutional Amendment.

Yes, it's doubtful that Congress would take the lead and vote for such an Amendment. But that's not the only way to amend the Constitution. Three-fourths of the State legislatures may call upon the Congress to appoint a Convention to consider Amendments and present them to the State legislatures for approval. Congress cannot prevent such activity. Some things may appear difficult - impossible even - but, if we were able to toss off the oppressive yolk of the British Empire when we were a tiny collection of 13 sparsely populated colonies, are we not - 308 million strong - capable of freeing ourselves from this tiresome, totalitarian, anti-democratic Senate?