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No more appointed senators

By David Segal
Published May 14th 2009 in Baltimore Sun

Where are they now?

Just three months ago, America was introduced to four newly appointed Senators - two of whom had never even run for office. They've receded from the fore of our consciousness over the months since, but they're still out there, doing the business of the people who elected the people who appointed them.

Senators Russ Feingold and John McCainare pushing an amendment to the Constitution to require that senators be elected by the people whom they are meant to represent. The 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, removed the appointment of senators from the purview of state legislatures, mandating popular elections, excepting for gubernatorial appointments when vacancies occur. It's time to close this loophole - and Maryland's Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, who sits on the Constitution subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee - can play a critical role in doing so.

Americans were rightfully dismayed by the political jockeying, and in some cases apparent outright corruption, that swirled around their ascension during the fall and winter. Now the appointees are laser-focused on consolidating the power that was handed to them. But their low popular support yields diminished legitimacy, making it harder to be taken seriously by their colleagues and to work effectively on behalf of their constituents.