Replacing Senators

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John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, is currently the junior Senator of Massachusetts. There are two questions concerning this fact and his race for the Presidency: should he step down now, and how should he be replaced if he does step down (either now, or should he win the election in November)?

Complicating this matter is the fact of the Republican governor of the state: Mitt Romney (don't be surprised: MA has had a Republican governor [four different ones] since 1991, and also from 1965-1975). The U.S. Constitution says (Article I, Section 2, Clause 2):

if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

This was amended by the 27th Amendment:

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

So is it the case, then, that the (in this case, heavily Democratic) legislature may, but does not have to, allow the governor to fill vacancies? I am never quite clear on the legal definition of "may," but I see no reason to mention the legislature at all if the Governor simply had that authority.

Regardless, it is quite clear that the Democrats are denying not only the people of their proper representation, but also of their will (as they chose the executive in question, knowing that he -- at the time -- had the power to fill vacancies). And you better believe that if the governor were a Democrat -- or if this comes up someday when the legislature and executive are once again both Democratic -- that they will change it right back to giving the governor that authority.

It's a horrible disservice to the people, and anti-democratic. I have no problem with setting up a special election that did not previously exist, but to deny representation in the meantime -- especially given that it is for purely political purposes -- is despicable.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on July 15, 2004 10:15 AM.

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