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Author Topic: Feingold introduces constitutional amendment
Everard
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"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.”"

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Storm Saxon
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Seems like a good idea?
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G2
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oh, why not? The 17th amendment already destroyed the purpose of the Senate and weakened the state governments. Might as well drive the final nail in that coffin.
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EDemoMan
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This is why the constitution is supposed to be difficult to amend, so flash-in-the-pan issues like this can go away instead of becoming constitutional law. Granted, it wasn't difficult enough to let the 17th amendment die...
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Stevarooni
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Federalism? Pfft. Central planning is the way to go, and state governments can only interfere with that!
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vulture
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This is one of those things where, as an outsider, I have no idea what the controversy here is. I'd assumed that senators were elected, and if one died in office, the replacement was also either elected, or replaced by someone from the same party.

My wild guess is that the problem isn't about electing senators as much as it is about removing the ability of the states to decide how they want to fill their senate seats. Would that be right? Or is there some more subtle reason why having elected senators is a Bad Thing (TM)?

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Lina Inverse
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This seems kind of random and dumb.
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munga
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I'd say fine, if they can figure out a way to hold additional state-wide elections without spending a dime. *

Governor's appointments work for the temp- and the appointee has to prove themselves to make it stick next election cycle. What can the juniorest person do to harm the legislative process, really?

I say, leave it alone, ya moron.

*Law of really diminishing returns.

[ January 26, 2009, 03:28 PM: Message edited by: munga ]

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RickyB
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I'd say if there's more than half a term, elections. If less, governor. Although the system seems to have worked out fine. I like Patterson's pick, even if it almost certainly means the GOP gains a house seat.
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Colin JM0397
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How about we make a counter offer to overturn the 17th, then we don't have to worry about paying for the election, the governors don't have any say, and we can let things go back to the way they were supposed to be!

Of course, that would mean carpetbaggers like Dole and Clinton would never get to be Senators [Razz]

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The Drake
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The problem with special elections is that they take a relatively long time to set up and they are costly. You have to print ballots, program voting machines, give candidates time to be nominated, raise money, campaign, make sure voters are informed, schedule poll workers and locations....

During this time, a state loses half its representation in the Senate. Especially with the margin being only a few votes for many issues, this could affect outcomes materially.

I suspect Democrats are pushing this issue for a number of reasons. First, it was they who got to be embarrassed by Blagojevich who was selling the Senate seat to the highest bidder. Second, there are several states who either now or historically have Republican Governors and Democrat Senators. They'd prefer not to have their seats handed over to the other party. Finally, they might well be able to overturn seats in a special election. Democrats are good at getting out the vote for special elections.

http://www.dccc.org/pages/2008_special_elections

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RickyB
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You know what? I think each state should decide, now that I thunk on it. If the people of a state decide they want elections to replace a Senator, so be it. Against the amendment.
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Kent
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I'm with you Colin! Abolish the 17th ammendment!
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Dave at Work
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vulture,

The United States Congress was created as a bicameral legislature. This was supposed to represent the nature of our government as a federal republic. The House of Representatives is supposed to represent the people and as such the number of Representatives is apportioned to each state by population and the Representatives have always been elected by popular vote. The Senate is supposed to represent the states and as such each state get two Senators and the manner of selecting those Senators was left up to each state to determine. As someone else already mentioned the 17th amendment changed the selection of Senators to the popular vote method for normal election cycles, though when a vacancy occurs the state gets to choose how the vacancy is filled. Some states have a special election, while others let their Governors decide.

While I don't like that Blagojevich tried to sell one of our Senate seats to the highest bidder, I also don't like the Federal Government taking yet another piece of sovereignty from the States by dictating the manner in which midterm selection of Senators for vacant Senate seats are chosen. I think that each state should choose their method and if they don't like the consequences they can change, or not, before the next time. After all why does it have to be general election or governor appointment? Why couldn't a state have their Congress choose for example? It is Illinois State Law that provides for the Governor to select the replacement for a vacant Senate seat. The Illinois State Legislature is in position to change that law if the people of the state demand that they do so. We do not need the federal government to make that decision for us or for the people of any other state.

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cherrypoptart
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This issue isn't really the point.

(Conspiratorial whisper...)

What she's really trying to do is get the ball rolling and get people used to passing Constitutional Amendments. First they start with the easy ones like this here.

Then the next thing you know, your guns are being confiscated, your children vaccinated and put into public schools, conservative talk radio is banned, and then if you try to petition your government for a redress of grievances, you're put into a re-education camp. One Constitutional Amendment after another, and each one will have sweet sounding names like the Protecting Children from Guns Amendment, the Protecting Children from Dreadful Diseases Amendment, the Protecting Children from Ignorance Amendment, the Fairness in Radio Amendment, and finally the Educating Adults to Get With The Program of Hope and Change Amendment.

Who is against protecting children? Who is against fairness? Who is against hope? Who is against change for the better?

Anywho... the point is this is just the shot across the bow, she's just running the idea of a new slew of Constitutional Amendments up the flagpole to see how many suckers salute.

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TomDavidson
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She?
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Who is against protecting children? Who is against fairness? Who is against hope? Who is against change for the better?
Not me, that's for darned sure. Are you saying you are against hope, fairness and protecting the children?
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Psudo
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Why not have the state legislature elect replacements for mid-term vacated Senate seats? That was the way Senators were elected generally before the 17th amendment.
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Psudo
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
She?

I think he confused Senator Russ Feingold with Senator Dianne Feinstein.
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Stevarooni
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quote:
Originally posted by Psudo:
Why not have the state legislature elect replacements for mid-term vacated Senate seats? That was the way Senators were elected generally before the 17th amendment.

Isn't that much the way it's...allowed, I suppose, now?
quote:
Originally posted by the 17th 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.

Well, it says that Senate vacancies can be replaced by the (unpaid) choice of the Executive of various States if the legislature's given that power to their Executive; it doesn't say how anything prohibiting legislature selection of Senators, otherwise.
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EDemoMan
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"That was the way Senators were elected generally before the 17th amendment." (Psudo)

I'd like to take you a step further; the words of Article 1 Section 3 actually stipulate this. It's not just the way it was generally done, it's the way it was done.

To agree with CPT, too, I agree.

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cherrypoptart
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> Psudo

> Originally posted by TomDavidson:
> She?


> I think he confused Senator Russ Feingold with Senator Dianne Feinstein.

You're right! But it was late... and I was listening to Coast to Coast with George Nory, so that's probably where the conspiracy bit came from too, but I actually don't think it's that far fetched. This really isn't crucial enough otherwise to get so worked up about it to go through the trouble of passing a Constitutional Amendment over it.

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DonaldD
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Why use voting machines for a single issue election? It really isn't that hard to print out single issue ballots.

As to the other expenses, a replacement election could be handled in a matter of weeks. Heck, Canadian national elections, for electing all federal representatives, only take a single month to run.

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munga
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why not have an online poll, and everyone can throw their hat in the ring, and the guy/girl with the most votes wins.

since that wouldn't cost anything significant, I would be fine with it.

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scifibum
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Let Fox do a reality show where wacky contestants audition for Senator in front of a panel including a sour Britishman, a cool music producer, and any number of clothes racks in between. The ratings will be huge and pay for the third party certification of the text-message polling results.
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kenmeer livermaile
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"Then the next thing you know, your guns are being confiscated, your children vaccinated and put into public schools, conservative talk radio is banned, and then if you try to petition your government for a redress of grievances, you're put into a re-education camp."

Man, I want your 'scrips. Them must be some good drugs.

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scifibum
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I'm honestly a bit torn here. On the face of things, I like the idea of states having the power to address this problem individually.

On a more subtle level, don't citizens deserve equal representation in the Senate? If states are allowed various methods of replacing Senators in mid term, doesn't this open up the possibility that some citizens are disenfranchised to some extent, compared to other states?

I think it's possible to consider it the citizens' responsibility to ensure that their own state provides an appropriate method for replacing Senators. However, the Senate being a part of the federal government, and the federal government having responsibility for protecting all of its citizens equally, I can see a rationale for enforcing substantially similar processess in all states for selecting and replacing Senators.

It's true though that special elections would be expensive and time consuming.

I'm not sure which I like less: more federal power, or that some states can use processes more easily corrupted than elections.

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EDemoMan
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scifibum, no, they don't. The citizens have equal representation in the House. The state governments (were supposed to) have equal representation in the Senate. This maintains the balance of power; Federal, State, Individual.

The solution, as I see it, is to have a 4-5 thousand member House and return election of Senators to the state legislatures. Unfortunately, the people who would have to make that change would be the people who would be losing power from it [Frown]

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Psudo
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quote:
Originally posted by Stevarooni:
Isn't that much the way it's...allowed, I suppose, now?

I suppose it's allowed, but I don't know of any state that does it that way. Typically, the new senator of a mid-term vacated seat is appointed by a governor or elected in a special election. An election by the state legislature would lack the hefty costs of a special election and be more resistant to the corruption of a governor appointment.

quote:
Originally posted by EDemoMan:
quote:
"That was the way Senators were elected generally before the 17th amendment." (Psudo)
I'd like to take you a step further; the words of Article 1 Section 3 actually stipulate this. It's not just the way it was generally done, it's the way it was done.
It is the way it was done in general elections, which is what I meant by the term "generally". I apologize for the ambiguity.

I don't know if midterm-vacated seats were filled that way. I could've looked it up, but instead I was lazy and said "generally".

quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
On a more subtle level, don't citizens deserve equal representation in the Senate? If states are allowed various methods of replacing Senators in mid term, doesn't this open up the possibility that some citizens are disenfranchised to some extent, compared to other states?

It's worse than that. Since states with very small populations and states with very large populations both have equal representation in the Senate, less populous states have more senators per capita than more populous ones. Thus, there is inherently a degree of disenfranchisement of the citizens of populous states baked right in.

Equal representation of the general population was the intention of the House of Representatives, not the Senate. The Senate was supposed to be removed from popular sentiment to a degree, insulated from passing fads by being elected by the state legislatures. But that was amended out of the Constitution, bringing the two legislative bodies close to the same and removing one of the checks and balances from our federal system. I think our nation was better off with a state legislature elected Senate, and thus I oppose the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which requires senators to be elected by the general public instead of by the legislature.

[ January 28, 2009, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: Psudo ]

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