1996 MARQUETTE LAW REVIEW 1894 and 1902 the House of Representatives passed

1996 marquette law review 1894 and 1902 the house of

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1996]
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MARQUETTE LAW REVIEW 1894 and 1902, the House of Representatives passed several resolutions proposing a constitutional amendment requiring direct election. 42 However, the Senate refused to vote on the issue because many of its members would have lost their jobs if they had to win popular support. The states turned to the convention provision of Article V to force Congress's hand. 43 Between 1893 and 1911, some thirty states called for a convention to propose an amendment requiring direct election, only one short of the thirty-one needed to trigger the convention process.' In addition to widespread state approval, many more Senators favored electoral reform because they themselves were the product of direct elections in which reform minded state legislatures promised voters that it would select the candidates who had won unofficial direct elections.' On May 13, 1912, the Senate finally approved the direct election amendment to avoid the prospect of a convention. 46 It was sent to the states for ratification, where it easily obtained approval of three-fourths of the states and became the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitu- tion in 1913. 47 Thus, no convention was called because Article V served its purpose as a safety valve by removing the congressional roadblock to the amending process and serving as the impetus to force Congress's hand. Supporters of the current campaign for a convention to propose a term limit amendment think that a similar institutional roadblock exists today. 48 Like Senators in the early 1900s, current members of Congress naturally oppose term limits because such limits restrict their ten- ure-particularly Representatives, who are often protected by gerryman- 42. WEBER & PERRY, supra note 32, at 61. 43. See VILE, supra note 41, at 7. 44. There were forty-six states in the Union in 1911. Some commentators claim that thirty-one states in fact did request a convention. However, the exact number of applications remains unsettled because of the inconsistent way in which the applications were recorded. See A.B.A., supra note 30, at 60-63. 45. See RONALD D. ROTUNDA, TERM LIMITS AND LESSONS FROM OUR PAST, Heartland Policy Study, No. 66 (June 28, 1995) (discussing the enactment of the Seventeenth Amendment). 46. 37 Stat. 646 (1912). 47. See Paul J. Weber, The Constitutional Convention: A Safe Political Option, 3 J.L. & POL. 51, 57-58 (1986). See generally Todd J. Zywicki, Senators and Special Interests: An Interest Group Explanation of the Seventeenth Amendment, 73 OR. L. REv. 1007 (1994) (discussing special interest groups and the Seventeenth Amendment). 48. Indeed, Congress never passed the tenth item in the Republican Party's Contract with America. See 141 CONG. REC. H182-04 (daily ed. Jan. 11, 1995) (statement of Rep. Fox) ("In the next 93 days we will vote on the following 10 items .... [including] Congressional term limits to make Congress a citizen legislature.").
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