The Progressive Era of Constitutional Amendment

Eficiência e Ética na Administração Pública (Luiz Alberto Blanchet et al. eds., 2015)

Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 386

27 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2015 Last revised: 6 Jan 2016

See all articles by Richard Albert

Richard Albert

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law; University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government; Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo; Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas; Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho; São Paulo Law School of Fundação Getulio Vargas FGV DIREITO SP; Reichman University - Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Harry Radziner School of Law; University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law; Airlangga University; Yale University; Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai

Date Written: December 30, 2015

Abstract

As hard as it is today to amend the United States Constitution — and empirical studies confirm that it is one of the hardest democratic constitutions to amend, if not the hardest, in the entire world — the United States Constitution was once thought too easy to amend. During the Progressive Era, a period of social activism and institutional reform from the 1890s through the 1920s, the United States adopted four constitutional amendments in a short span of roughly 10 years: the Sixteenth Amendment, authorizing a direct income tax; the Seventeenth Amendment, establishing direct elections to the United States Senate; the Eighteenth Amendment, imposing prohibition; and the Nineteenth Amendment, constitutionalizing women’s suffrage. In this Essay prepared for a conference on corruption and institutional design in comparative perspective, I explore the impetus for the Seventeenth Amendment, which was in large measure driven by an effort to curb corruption in senatorial elections. Today, roughly one hundred years since the entrenchment of the Seventeenth Amendment, there appears to be some support to repeal it. The challenge, however, is that it is much harder today than before to formally amend the Constitution.

Keywords: United States Constitution, Constitutional Amendment, Progressive Era, Seventeenth Amendment, United States Senate, Corruption, Amendment Difficulty

Suggested Citation

Albert, Richard, The Progressive Era of Constitutional Amendment (December 30, 2015). Eficiência e Ética na Administração Pública (Luiz Alberto Blanchet et al. eds., 2015), Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 386, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2709211

Richard Albert (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512.213.1113 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.utexas.edu/faculty/richard-albert

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government ( email )

College of Liberal Arts
1 University Station A1800
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo ( email )

Facultad de Derecho
Av. Samborondón 5
Samborondón, 092301
Ecuador

HOME PAGE: http://uees.edu.ec/postgrado/postgrado-derecho

Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas ( email )

12 place du Pantheon
Paris cedex 06, 75231
France

Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho

Calle 12 # 1-17 este
Calle 12 0 83
Bogota D.C, Cundinamarca 3456
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://www.uexternado.edu.co/derecho

São Paulo Law School of Fundação Getulio Vargas FGV DIREITO SP

R. Rocha, 233, Bela Vista
São Paulo, 01330-000
Brazil

HOME PAGE: http://direitosp.fgv.br

Reichman University - Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Harry Radziner School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://www.idc.ac.il/en/schools/law/pages/home.aspx

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://commonlaw.uottawa.ca

Airlangga University

Dharmawangsa Dalam Selatan
Surabaya, East Java 60286
Indonesia

HOME PAGE: http://www.unair.ac.id

Yale University

493 College St
New Haven, CT CT 06520
United States

Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai ( email )

2nd Floor, CETTM MTNL Building, Technology Street
Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai 400076
Maharashtra
India

HOME PAGE: http://mnlumumbai.edu.in/vaf.php

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