(Episode 37) The Good, the Bad, and the Eh: The 16th, 17th, and 24th Amendments

Welcome to Season 4, Episode 8, Listeners! In this installment, we talk about three Amendments to the Constitution, taking them slightly out of order (both to keep you on your toes and because we thought it made sense):

16th Amendment (AKA "The Eh") - Income Tax
Happy Belated Tax Day! The Sixteenth Amendment establishes the federal income tax. Believe it or not, early-20th-century progressives actually advocated for the income tax, hoping to address the huge wealth disparity and the heavy influence of the wealthy in politics. The Constitution permitted Congress to levy taxes, but for "direct" taxes, it had to apportion the tax among states based on their populations. Enter, 16th Amendment and some riveting tax case law.

17th Amendment (AKA "The Bad"*) - Popular Election of Senators
(*In Sam's opinion. And some other people...)
The 17th Amendment is the only one to change the structure of Congress as originally written in a substantial way.  Remember how the Constitution empowered state legislatures to choose Senators? This changes that and hands power directly to the voters to choose. Why does it matter? Federalist No. 62 goes into some detail, but the gist is that the House was supposed to have one character, and the Senate another. Changing the source of the Senate changes one of the fundamental checks within the legislative branch. (Note: once again, the 14th Amendment steals the thunder in some of the SCOTUS cases.)

24th Amendment (AKA "The Good") - Abolition of the Poll Tax
Finally, we talk about the 24th Amendment and removing barriers to the right to vote. This Amendment could have larger implications beyond the poll tax, which is demonstrated in some of the case law surrounding it.

We hope your April has been kind to you, we wish you a great start to May, and we are hopeful that Sam's blog posts will continue to be more timely! :-D