Feingold Sez: No More Clusterfuck Senate Appointment Processes

Talk about a good way to capture the sentiment of a lot of fed up people:

Feingold to Introduce Constitutional Amendment Ending Gubernatorial Appointments to Senate Vacancies 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, issued the following statement today on plans to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the Senate by state governors and require special elections in the event of a Senate seat vacancy.

The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end.  In 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution gave the citizens of this country the power to finally elect their senators.  They should have the same power in the case of unexpected mid term vacancies, so that the Senate is as responsive as possible to the will of the people.  I plan to introduce a constitutional amendment this week to require special elections when a Senate seat is vacant, as the Constitution mandates for the House, and as my own state of Wisconsin already requires by statute.  As the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I will hold a hearing on this important topic soon.

      • phred says:

        Hmmm, I’m not sure how I feel about having to choose between MY hubcaps and my former-home-state Senator. Can’t I keep both?!?! ; ) Greed… it’s the American Way ; )

        • emptywheel says:

          I think you’re sharing your most recent hubcap with LabDancer (who always roots for the home team–don’t know what she’ll do next weekend) and probably about 10 other people, none of whom have come calling for it.

        • phred says:

          Dang it, I forgot I had to share that last hubcap (sorry Lab Dancer, didn’t mean to be such a piggy). What can I say, I like shiny bright objects — I’m easily distracted…

          Speaking of which, bmaz can you please explain how you managed to go from trashing your home team (like ‘em or not) to calling for Ted Thompson to be fired?!? I mean really! Still miffed about the Favre-kerfuffle or do you figure he is going to blow his draft picks? I’m happy Bob Sanders is gone. I’ll give TT another year (depending on his off-season moves).

        • LabDancer says:

          Where your Reverse-Trash Ploy falls apart is with that Spidey Guy.

          The best you’re allowed is ‘A Plurality of Cardinals Have Shown A General Tendency To Suck To Such an Extent I Doubt the Team’s Capacity to Prevail”.

          Correction: you can also have: “Right Thru the Reign of Bidwell No Team Has Sucked As Much As the Cardinals”.

          Clearly, to this point the Cardinals have proven plainly unable to out-suck Spidey Guy’s ability to haul their sorry butts in the opposing direction. Thus, it both is plainly inaccurate and does not serve to credit said Ploy on your part not to refine said Ploy to accommodate said Spidey factor.

          I write this in no way meaning that you ought to resign yourself to the sports cliche blahs, of “any given Sunday”, or “they all put their pants on one leg at a time” [Not so sure about that last one anyway.].

          I’m simply urging that this be recognized as one of those moments that calls upon the True Fan for greatness – – such as, by way of example, the characteristically Harvardian homage to composure brought to the annual tilt with foul Yale by the late Geo. Plimpton, esq., in his deathless: “Repel them – Repel them – Make them relinquish the ball”; or of the greatest football news headline ever, when James Fallow served on the Crimson: “HARVARD WINS 28-28″.

          Maybe the Cardinals don’t deserve it – lord knows Bidwell certainly doesn’t – but Spidey does.

        • bmaz says:

          I would just like to take this opportunity to agree with Mr. Phred that the Cardinals should not be in the SuperBowl with the Stillers and have no chance whatsoever of actually winning the game.

          Ted Thompson should be fired.

    • Leen says:

      Me too! Feingold seems to be a man of the law. Really appreciate his line of questioning, hard driving.

      Wish he would run for a higher office in the future

  1. LabDancer says:

    Ms E – Unable to detect usual linkie on post. Suspecting lack of personal sharpitude, sought to round up usual suspects: ran around Senator Feingold’s website, Senate site for list of bills introduced, google search – to not avail.


  2. phred says:

    And speaking of hubcaps, I would just like to add, that this is the worst Sunday of the whole year — not by date, but by virtue of being the Sunday that foreshadows the approaching end to the football year. Sure, we’ve got the Super Bowl yet, but then it is months — MONTHS! — without a regular season game. I’m pining. There’s not even a trashtalk thread to assuage my misery… whimper… ; )

    If only bmaz were here and I could sing the praises of the Cards to his eternal mortification. Ah well…

    • emptywheel says:

      You might start singing. He’s bound to appear.

      McC the MilleniaLab has tried to entice me downstairs to watch football about 4 times in the last hour.

      Which tells you:

      1) How often I watch OTHER TV
      2) How well attuned McC’s football clock is
      3) He’s also pining for football
      4) You’re lucky enough to know English, and therefore know WHY football has been canceled for the day

      • phred says:

        LOL! Scratch McC behind the ears for me… I feel his pain. I may understand English better, but I still keep glancing at the blank screen of my teevee wistfully ; )

        • freepatriot says:

          Jebus, didn’t you guys get the memo

          there’s a NEW GUY in the whitehouse now, an change is in the air (does “change” ever get a contact high ???)

          we’re HOOPS NATION now

          we all gotta learn how to trash talk Duquesne versus Pittman, tech or some crazy teams like that

          apparently North Carolina an Duke don’t suck at hoops, whodathunkit

          rumor has it, in Michigan,hoops season started in October this year

          I already figured out most of the rules (it’s kinda like soccer without a goalie), but nobody can explain what the fuck IUPUI is

          apparently, this is the future …

      • phred says:

        Now don’t go pointing out any silver linings to my dark cloud today. Harummpphhh. I started out grumpy, and I mean to stay that way — although clearly not as grumpy as bmaz… Blowing goats is a whole special category of cantankerous all on its own ; )

      • Petrocelli says:

        I got no horse in this race but I enjoy watching the Stillers Defence as much as both these Offenses. If Big Ben wins it, will Madden finally stop saying that Manning is the better of the two ?

        I guess we’ll find that out in a week … and if God loves Warner as much as he thinks.

        • emptywheel says:

          Alright, that sealed it, I’m rooting for mr. phred’s heathen team. If only to prevent Warner from having another big megaphone from which to tell us about his god.

          Here’s a question. If it’s so okay to talk about god on sports broadcasts, why not politics???

        • Petrocelli says:

          In both arenas, God apparently lurves the victors more than the losers.

          When my darn book gets published, you’ll prolly smile at this point, which I make rather indelicately, in one of the Chapters.

      • freepatriot says:

        what more could you want?

        roller derby

        no, wait

        roller derby AND sidecar motorcycle races ON ICE

        an maybe some cliff diving …

        where’s Jim McKay when ya really need him

  3. boloboffin says:

    I disagree with mandating special elections. Advice and consent of the state senate for gubernatorial appointments should be sufficient, with a special election preferred.

  4. LabDancer says:

    Senator Feingold – – in deference to phred: Feinglindor, Good Warlock of the North – – has the item up on his website now – – but it’s indistinguishable from what Ms E Wheel put up here, i.e. nothing more in the way of detail.

    If one does a brief google walk through the background of the fightin’ 17th, one notes that, in common with all constitutional amendments, it took some time to get through the process: the House, the Senate, the Prez, ratification by 2/3. Not ’so much time it’s both embarrassing & relevatory’, like with the ERA, mind you – but nonetheless measured in years, not months.

    Indeed, I would argue that movement was actually better measured in terms of decades rather than years. The most visible part of the legislative action, during the period just before WWI, was the culmination of a longtime-held & widely [near universally] perceived need to address two big retrograde effects of constitutional infirmity:

    [a] Over the course of the first 130 years of Us history, the individual states had developed very different taxation fiefdoms, which through the post Civil War & Industrial Revolution had proved to be largely if not completely irreconcilable, with many of the differences, and accommodations to them – and measures in protest against them- having created barriers, giving rise to crippling inefficiencies in interstate relations and national expression, particularly in the areas of commerce, personal mobility & the capacity of the various state governments & the federal government to enforce the rule of law, at all, leave aside with any semblance of equality.

    [b] There was an urgent need to address empowering the federal government in the one, most meaningful way that had been neglected since the Civil War- national war endeavors having proven to to that point to be the only means by which the federal government could exercise a national mandate: by funding it, through ceding to it the power to raise monies through taxation during peacetime and in periods during which there was no national emergency or expansion project [It’s no accident that the two more often than not coincided.]

    It may appear that I’ve mixed up the 17th with the 16th amendment, but in fact the two were seen [I think correctly as inextricably tied to each other, the 17th being seen at the time as a necessary means by which to ensure the efficacy of the 16th.

    I’m not at all certain that ANY sort of constitutional amendment is possible now [Again, I cite the ERA by way of example.], leave aside one without the same kind of undeniable need with virtually universal support.

    I also don’t see the need. Before the 17th the selection of a state’s senators was entirely within the control of the individual state legislature. Since the 17th the state legislature’s control is limited to replacement, such as through resignation like we’ve seen since November or death. The circumstances which put the control over selecting the successor to President-elect Obama in Illinois came about by the choice of the Illinois state legislature: that was who ceded the power to MacBlago – – and that is who can in the long run at least remove that power. It can choose to do so by various means: EG in the case of election followed by death or removal or resignation at any time up to a certain period before the expiry of the 6 year term by requiring deference to the same sort of popular election the 17th already mandates for original qualification, and thereafter by reserving onto its own membership the power to choose the “temporary” seat holder until the end of the term, and only reserving the power of succession to the state’s chief executive in defined ‘emergency’ situations, perhaps including a very brief period before the end of the term.

    The rationale behind including in the 17th the idea of ceding succession selection power to the state chief executive is something of an historical anomaly or atavism, brought about by so many instances of lengthy, unresolved and sometimes never resolved disputes within particular state legislatures over who would be selected to take the seat. The reason I refer to that as an ‘anomaly’ [Doing so might strike some as strange, given the superficial proof from the situations in Illinois and to a lesser extent in New York State that the phenomenon is NOT anomalous – tho I could still point to Minnesota, as well as to the 2000 POTUS election, as showing that lengthy periods over which the ’selection’ remains unresolved are hardly an exclusive function of the power being reserved to state government actors], is that, again, the 17th was a child of the late horse-and-buggy, pony express days of transport and communication.

    The main reason I would be reluctant to get strongly behind this initiative by Senator Feingold is the current costs, combined with it being not at all apparent that such costs will even cease to rise at a rate that exceeds what we’d all concede is runaway inflation, let alone reduce to some tolerable level. I recognize that the power associated with every individual seat in the US Senate is immense [Witness the power that fuckhead Bunning demonstrated in putting a hold on the means Congress set up to exercise oversight over Treasury Secretary Hanky Panky’s imperial gifting of the first half of the TARP funds.], but I don’t just measure the costs of popular election in terms of money, but in the larger sense of ‘costs’ to proper maintenance of the role of the popular ballot in the context of a constitutional democracy. I would argue that, inside a year – maybe even two – of replacing a national legislative seat holder via a popular election risks cheapening the sort of meaning we place on the electoral process, especially given the evidence of how the best-of-intentioned states like Mnnesota can find itself embroiled in a process that could prove to deprive the state of a seat in the Senate for a number of months.

  5. Teddy Partridge says:

    The federal government should cover a state’s costs of a special election required to fill a Senate seat when the incumbent went to work for the Administration, or is appointed to a judicial post. In other words, the President should pay for the costs his appointments incur, not the state. Dead Senators or resigned through malfeasance, though, should probably be the state’s expense.

  6. freepatriot says:

    I.m gonna goa all serious for a second:

    I don’t agree with popular elections for Senators. under the original construct, Senators represent THE STATE, and Representitives represent THE PEOPLE

    this created a triangular relationship betweed Fed, State, and the People, and allowed the State to protect the People from the Fed, and vise versa

    when Senators began being choosen by direct election, this relationship was destroyed, and the State and the Fed were allowed to join against the People

    restore the original relationship

    give the State Legislature the right to choose THE STATE’S senators

    we know return you to your original reality,, where we snark and snack on trolls an leave the real discussions to those unfortunate enough to have grown up …

      • freepatriot says:

        But what is the State if not its People?

        The State is not the People

        the State is the servant of the People

        an the Founders didn’t TRUST the people

        I can kinda unnerstan that …

        • Hmmm says:

          True, I guess a State legislature having an upper house does somewhat diffuse the influence of the hoi polloi, but since that too is directly elected by The People, aren’t we back at square #1, State-vs-People-wise?

        • freepatriot says:

          not really

          think about it

          if 33 Senators had to please their State Legislatures to keep their jobs in 2010, the bailout package would be VERY different

          more relief for States in crisis would be a given

          and the Fed’s unfunded mandates would be almost nonexistent

          it would create a People vs Fed, and a State vs Fed competition

          with two differing bodies trying to feed off it, the Fed would spend most of it’s time defending itself

        • Hmmm says:

          Would it really work out that way in practice? State legislatures can run pretty red = crazy on tax policy, antienvironmentalism, anti-education, etc. So having to please the state legislature might well increase the influence of wingnuts, not decrease it.

          (BTW isn’t it funny how the color that used to mean communism now means Republicanism?)

        • freepatriot says:

          State Legislatures run pretty BLUE too

          a real brainiac would have figured out how this idea would alter the makeup of the current Senate

          I go by instinct

          and I figure we made two mistakes, taxation without apportionment, and direct election of Senators

          well, that an Prohibition …

    • bmaz says:

      The 17th Amendment reads:

      The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

      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.

      This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

      I have no idea what you are implying it says by your comment, but the text speaks for itself quite nicely.