Article V of the U.S. Constitution says the following:

"... no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

I understand this to roughly mean: "depriving states of the right to choose 2 Senators requires unanimous state-by-state consent."

The 17th amendment states:

"The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof..."


So consource.org was helpful. Looking at James Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention, particularly May 30., state suffrage did in fact mean seats in the branch, not state appointment to an office. Now I appreciate the danger of using contemporary language to understand the Constitution. I will give "ohwilleke" his reward.

  • The fact that every U.S. state has elected its Senators since the 17th Amendment was adopted 110 years ago in 1913, without interruption or dispute, should have clued you in.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 10:26

1 Answer 1


Does Article V Ab Initio Void the 17th Amendment?


The Article V prohibition on unequal representation in the U.S. Senate is a right of each U.S. state to have the same voting power in the U.S. Senate when it has no U.S. Senate vacancies as every other state. It is a right of the state, not its state legislature. The fact that these U.S. Senators are now elected directly rather than indirectly doesn't violate Article V.

  • So, you make no distinction between a state and the people of a state, but do make a distinction between a state and its legislature? But what about the tenth amendment? There is a distinction there between the states and the people.
    – gbmye
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 10:29
  • 3
    @gbmye Nobody interpreted Article V the way that you are trying to in the period leading up to the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, and no one has done so since then. archives.gov/milestone-documents/17th-amendment Your interpretation is one that everyone else has rejected as absurd for 110 years.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 10:31
  • Alright, not trying to be a crank. I knew I was wrong; I just didn't know where I went wrong. It seems I went wrong with the definition of a "state". How would you define it?
    – gbmye
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 10:33
  • 2
    @gbmye There were 13 states to start with. There are 50 states now. To comply with Article V, each state that is admitted at any given time needs to have the same number of Senators allocated to it in the U.S. Senate (not necessarily 2 each, it could be 1 or 3 or 10), and each Senator needs to have a single vote. How those Senators are selected is irrelevant under Article V so long as the selection process in each state somehow represents that state (the process doesn't even have to be the same in each state to comply, and it isn't exactly the same even now due to varied state vacancy rules).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 10:42
  • 2
    @gbmye "the state legislatures and a majority of citizens of a state are both legally equivalent to a state" Not really. A state is a state and the Article V right belongs to it, not to the people who select its Senators on its behalf, whether they are state legislators, or voters, or Governors filling a vacancy.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 10:56

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