Calling himself ‘a Tea Partier,’ David Williams pushes repeal of 17th Amendment

November 10, 2010 | | Comments 57

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville

By Jack Brammer –

Kentucky Senate President David Williams declared himself “a Tea Partier” Wednesday and called for repeal of a constitutional amendment that took the power to appoint U.S. senators away from state legislatures and gave it to voters.

Williams’ comments, which came during a presentation to the University of Kentucky Law School Federalist Society, drew strong reaction from Williams’ rival in next spring’s Republican primary election for governor and Kentucky’s two U.S. senators

Republican Phil Moffett’s campaign manager, David Adams, said Williams was lifting Moffett’s idea, while McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer and retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning defended electing U.S. senators by popular vote.

“Taking that sacred right away from the American people and giving it to politicians would be a huge step backward for our democracy,” Steurer said.

Bunning said in a statement, “The way it is now is the proper way to do it.”

Williams, a Burkesville attorney, told about 50 UK law students that most of the problems with the federal government stem from the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was adopted in 1913.

He contended that it prevents state legislatures across the country from having input into the ever-growing role of the federal government with its various mandates, such as this year’s health insurance overhaul package.

Williams warned the students to “be mindful of the intervention of the tentacles of the federal government,” which attaches requirements “to every dollar it sends to the states.”

Williams, who is chairman of the Lexington-based Council of State Governments, noted that President John F. Kennedy said during his June 1963 speech at the Berlin Wall in West Berlin, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

The phrase, translated “I am a citizen of Berlin,” underlined America’s support for West Germany 22 months after the Soviet-supported Communist state of East Germany erected the Berlin Wall to prevent movement between the East and West.

“In my statement, I am a Tea Partier,” Williams said, adding that most Tea Partiers are “angry at the federal government at the level of taxation, at the level of expenditures and at its encroachment.”

Asked after his presentation why he is raising the issue of the Seventeenth Amendment at this time, Williams said he was asked to come to the law school to discuss “the problems that are inherent as to the level of checks and balances between the various branches of government.”

He called it “an intellectual discussion with law students that is being replicated all over the United States of America as people are afraid of the centralization of power in the United States Congress.”

Williams acknowledged that there is an “almost nil” chance that Congress initiate repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment.

He also said he will not spend much of his time on the gubernatorial campaign trail talking about the Seventeenth Amendment.

“But I will talk about it when asked and will tell the people that I don’t think it has served the country very well,” he said.

Williams said Kentucky’s state legislatures, which have been dominated by Democrats for much of the last century, would have become more familiar and involved with federal issues without the Seventeenth Amendment.

“Kentucky would have grown more conservative sooner, electing more Republicans to the state legislature,” he said.

Asked what he means when he calls himself “a Tea Partier,” Williams said: “What is driving the Tea Party movement? It is anger, anger about federal government intervention. Not having a balanced budget. To that extent, I’m a Tea Partier.”

Williams said that angry mood propelled Republican Rand Paul to victory last week over Democrat Jack Conway in their race for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky.

Adams of Moffett’s gubernatorial campaign accused Williams of going to “to try to pick off some Tea Party ideas.”

Adams noted that in September Moffett told a Libertarian Party group meeting in Lexington that he favored repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment.

“Tea Partiers appreciate converts but David Williams has supported too many tax increases and signed off on too many billions in state debt for anyone to take him seriously on this,” Adams said.

Matt Osborne, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign, said the governor is focused on job creation.

“We’re not going to get into these issues between Williams and Moffett in the GOP primary,” he said.

Filed Under: David WilliamsElectionsFederal GovernmentGovernorKY General AssemblyMitch McConnell

About the Author:

RSSComments (57)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. James Mercer says:

    I’ve been to these UK Law School Federalist Society meetings before. They’re really pretty informal, they aren’t campaign events (at least not to any real extent).

    Generally, the speakers do get into intellectually interesting topics, usually relating to constitutional law, and certainly the 17th Amendment is such a topic. So I’m not surprised this is something that Williams would discuss in this context. I think this is being blown way out of proportion to vilify Williams, and probably isn’t one of his central campaign positions or something he really plans to fight for.

    There are pros and cons to the 17th Amendment, and America obviously chose to go the 17th Amendment route, and that’s fine. I really don’t think Williams’ position disqualifies him for governor, or even matters very much. I’m not a Williams fan, and I don’t see him as a tea partier at all. But this is a waste of time.

    The GOP will need better candidates to beat Beshear, unless Moffett actually starts making some waves. Williams will no doubt lose in a general election.

  2. Billy Taylor says:

    If David Williams really believes that repealing the 17th Amendment is a good idea, then he should with draw from the governor’s race now and drop out of politics all together. Taxed Enough Already (TEA) supporters, no matter what party they are affiliated with, support the Constitution and the government of the people by the people. What Williams is suggesting would take away from that concept, and like Obama’s mandated health care, take away another of the freedoms we enjoy in America. The freedom of choice, or the freedom to choose our elected officals via the ballot box.

  3. Jeffery says:

    I knew Williams was a joke, but this is beyond the pale. I wonder if he wants to return to the days of counting African-Americans as 3/5ths of a person? By claiming he is a “tea partier”, he once again proves its not his convictions that he follows, but wets his finger sees which way the wind is blowing and yells “me too”!

  4. […] Moffett had publicly said that before. And on Wednesday, his rival Republican gubernatorial candidate, Senate President David Williams, said he also wanted the 17th amendment repealed, as first reported by the Herald-Leader’s Jack Brammer. […]

  5. Buck Feshear says:

    Taxed Enough Already (TEA) supporters, no matter what party they are affiliated with, support the Constitution and the government of the people by the people.

    Then you must think that once Prohibition was enshrined in the constitution, it was wrong to remove it. Right? Based on the logic you just espoused, that has to be what you believe.

  6. sdfdgg says:

    Dear customers, thank you for your support of our company.
    Here, there’s good news to tell you: The company recently
    launched a number of new fashion items! ! Fashionable
    and welcome everyone to come buy. If necessary, please
    plut: http://www.