Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Constitutional Amendment Concerning Senate Vacancies

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow, 10:00 am EDT, on a proposed amendment to the constitution to require an election, not gubernatorial appointment, to fill a vacant Senate seat.  The Senate Joint Resolution is here; the Senate Judiciary page, with a link to a webcast of the hearing, is here.

The proposed amendment would supersede the Seventeenth Amendment, Clause 2, which allows state legislatures to empower their state executives "to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct."  Thus, e.g., it would have required an election to fill President Obama's vacant seat--if it were in effect--thus avoiding the circus surrounding Roland Burris's appointment.  (As it is, the proposed amendment would not affect Burris: It exempts "any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as a part of the Constitution.")



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