In 2010, while the federal Congress was voting to require all citizens of America to purchase health insurance, the Missouri Legislature was voting to declare the federal mandate null and void. The final version of the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act, Senate Substitute for HB 1764, championed by Senators Cunningham and Lembke and Representatives Jones and Nieves, was passed by the senate by a vote of 26-8 (76%) and by the House by a vote of 108-48 (69%). The Missouri Health Care Freedom Act was submitted to a vote of the people of Missouri and approved by a vast majority of 71% on August 3, 2010.
How should the people of Missouri respond to the oncoming tyranny of the federal government? How should the state of Missouri take the message of Missouri Health Care Freedom Act and foster the liberties of its people? Many things must be done to cure our nation of the evil of tyranny. One partial remedy is the repeal of the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The 17th Amendment provides that United States Senators shall be elected by a popular vote of the people of each state. But this was not always the case in this great federal republic. The Constitution, before the adoption of the 17th Amendment, provided that two Senators from each state would be chosen by the Legislatures thereof. It is now time to repeal the 17th Amendment and return the authority to select U.S. Senators to the state Legislatures.
The 17th Amendment is defended via claims of democracy and giving power to the people. However, the people have been duped and disserved by such emotional arguments to the end that they exercise their power ineffectively. All governing power in these united States derives from the people. The Declaration of Independence emphatically announces that,
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
While recognizing that all authority comes from the people, the Declaration also asserts that the united colonies are free and independent states as is the state of Great Britain. The states have the right to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances and establish commerce as independent entities. The conviction of the founding fathers was that the states derive their authority from the people and the federal government derives its authority from the states through the U.S. Constitution.
So the question is not who has the authority but how the people may most effectively exercise their authority. Which method of selecting the U.S. Senate is most protective of the liberties of the citizens of Missouri? Since 1913, when the 17th Amendment was ratified, U.S. Senators have been selected by a direct vote of the people of each state. Since that time, this nation has seen a continual concentration of power in the federal government, through this last year when we have seen the federal government usurp the authority to make individual health care decisions. The attitude of Senator McCaskill is endemic and representative. McCaskill was asked by CNS News on December 22, 2009, “Specifically where in the Constitution does Congress get the authority to mandate that individuals buy health insurance?” McCaskill said, “Well the -- we have all kinds of places where the government has gotten involved with health care and mandating insurance. In most states, the government mandates the buying of car insurance, and I can assure everyone that if anything in this bill is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court will weigh in.” As reported in Politico on January 20, 2010, Sen. McCaskill stated, "As I said to somebody last night: everybody needs to get the Washington wax out of their ears and listen and pay attention that people out there believe that we are going too far, too fast." On August 18, 2010, it is reported that McCaskill made the following comment on Proposition C, the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act: "Basically it's a referendum that doesn't have much legal impact. It was, I think, largely political, and I don't think it will have a large amount of impact on what actually happens with changes to health care in Missouri." Senator McCaskill did vote for the federal mandate on health care.
Taking these comments together, it is clear that McCaskill knew that the people of Missouri opposed the national health care legislation early on. After she got the Washington wax out of her ears and heard the opposition, she supported the national health care legislation and voted for it as the right thing to do. She voted for it even though she could not support her decision. Her response to the constitutionality question was a non-answer. Neither the past conduct of the federal government nor states’ actions has any bearing on the constitutionality of a proposition enacted by the federal government. While the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act passed with 71 % of the vote, its passage has not changed the tone of Sen. McCaskill’s rhetoric. In her assessment, it had very little impact.
As confirmed by the Declaration of Independence, the first and primary recipients of the governing authority of the people are the states. The states are the first line of defense against tyranny. Since the founding of the nation, the states have been the consistent advocate of liberty within this nation. Their authority must be respected. Unfortunately, the 17th Amendment has diminished the respect due the states.
If the U.S. Senate had been selected by the state legislatures in 2008, it is likely that the federal health care legislation would not have passed in 2010. In the 2010 Missouri legislative session, in addition to the Missouri Healthcare Freedom Act, there were a number of resolutions proposed recommending the Missouri Congressional Delegation take positions on particular matters, including the federal health care legislation, energy regulation, and a balanced budget. The common objection to each was that they were not worth the paper they were written on inasmuch as they could be freely disregarded by the representatives and senators. It should never be that Missouri’s Congressional Delegation should disregard the expressions of their state Legislature.
How different would it be if Missouri’s U.S. Senators were appointed by the Legislature? If each Senator were beholden to the Legislature for his or her appointment to the seat of service to the state, the situation would be drastically different. Imagine justifying your votes to 163 state representatives and 34 state senators rather than countless thousands of voters who may or may not show up to a particular election and who will make their decisions based on the quality of the public relation package presented to the public. The expressions of the state would be of paramount importance.
The state of Missouri will always be your first and best line of defense in thwarting federal tyranny. The natural lines of affinity and fidelity between local state representative and senators and the people will support Missouri as your best advocate of liberty. Remember that your state senators and representatives live close to you. They are more likely to share your interests. They are more assessable and easily replaced at your will. In addition, the state’s natural protection of its own interests and authority will encourage it to guard against a usurpation of power by the federal government.
As we have seen the federal tyrant increasingly usurp unauthorized and unwarranted power, the people must reclaim their authority to exercise their liberties. The most important question is how to bring the tyrant under the control of a free society. The answer is to bring more power back to the states. One way of doing that is to return the authority to select U.S. Senators to the Legislatures of the various states as was the original design of the founders. The people have their popularly elected advocate, their Congressman. The states must receive back their advocates for the people, the Senator.
David Linton is a licensed attorney in the state of Missouri with extensive experience in business and utility law, lobbying and political campaigns. He is also a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America with a Master of Arts degree in Exegetical Theology from Covenant Theological Seminary.