January 25th, 2009
05:05 PM ET
9 years ago

Senator: End Blagojevich-type appointments

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.feingold.gi.jpg caption="Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold says he plans to introduce an amendment banning governors from appointing senators."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - First it was the uproar over the appointment by Illinois Gov. Roy Blagojevich of former state attorney general Roland Burris to fill President Barack Obama's remaining term in the Senate.

Then, New York Gov. David Paterson appointed Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to the Senate seat now vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - creating a political circus over why Caroline Kennedy was given the cold shoulder.

Now, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, says, enough is enough.

On Sunday, Feingold, said he plans to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the Senate by governors. Feingold, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, will advocate a special election instead.

“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," he said in a press release.

He added: "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."

Feingold plans to introduce the amendment this week.

soundoff (365 Responses)
  1. clyde lincoln

    While I might aggreee with Senator Feingold, is this the most importqnt issue that the Snate has to deal with right now? Hardly?

    January 25, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  2. bsmith171

    he's right. elections for all.
    repeal the 17th amendement.

    January 25, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. J.C.

    I agree with Senator Feingold 100%.

    January 25, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. Teddy City

    If anyone can pull us out of this horrible economy it's the democrats.
    Let's tweek the system before it's too late.

    January 25, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    BRAVO FEINGOLD..... Russ is a long-time favorite of mine.... and this is a great idea... appointments to the senate by a governor are bound to be tied up in political BALONEY.... the people should elect a senator....

    January 25, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. floridian

    Perhaps the Senator and his colleagues ought to look at something else, as well. I would suggest that an individual cannot run for two federal positions at the same time - like President and/or Vice President while running for a Congressional seat (Senator or member of the House of Representatives). One should be required to choose between the two and not have one to fall back on if one loses the non-Congressional position. Obviously what Senator Feingold is going to propose would be needed for a sitting member of Congress being elected to another federal position while his/her term is not going to end concurrent with the new term.

    January 25, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Steve

    Enough is enough. Governor "Blag" is only the tip of political deal-making and self-serving appointment activities. This has being going on since we have been a country. It's time to put the power of selecting those that go to Washington to represent us back in our own hands. I agree with Feingold. Special elections MUST be the way to go. We certainly will never stop self-serving politicians, but we can put them on notice that they are OUR employees.

    January 25, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. George Washington

    creating another politcal circus? or just more or the usual?

    January 25, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Moe, NY

    I agree100%. Special elections is the way to go! Now, let's work on setting term limits.

    January 25, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Nick

    I agree. Since senators initially are supposed to be elected by the citizens, even the ones that have to fill in after a senate seat is vacated mid-term, like Senator Obama's and Senator Clinton's was should be decided by special elections by the those same citizens whom they represent.

    January 25, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Bud in NC

    Hooray! It makes no sense whatsoever in a democracy that one person (even a governor) should select someone to fill a vacant senate seat. In a democracy, we should select our congrespersons by the ballot box. Let us the public decide. Good for you Senator Feingold.

    January 25, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. caroline would have never won a special election!

    so what gives?

    the tiny group of super-rich super-powerful elite are afraid that

    the people have too much power!

    feingold, i expected better of you!

    i guess you're part of the ever-arrogant elite group, after all!

    January 25, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Brian

    Russ, I've never voted for you or any other democrat, but your plan in this instance makes perfect sense. It helps eliminate more political corruption.

    January 25, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. Shane


    January 25, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. brad

    Makes a lot of sense to me for both sides.

    January 25, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. jumbo

    amen !

    January 25, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. marlene

    Finally, someone from Congress says something that makes sense.

    January 25, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. Allen

    The seventeenth amendment needs to be repealed (not just tweaked). We need to go back to allowing the state legislatures to appoint ALL U.S. senators (the way our forefathers intended). Though this would not eliminate special interest influence 100%, it would still be a big blow.

    January 25, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Sue

    John Boehner lied about 200 billion dollars going to contraceptives in HR 1454 on Meet the Press...
    there is no such allocation in the entire bill.
    John Boehner is a liar trying to incite violence from the ultra right wing.

    January 25, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. an_hope

    Why don't you change it back to the way the Fathers intended in the first place!!!

    January 25, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. Perusing-Through


    Any Senator or Congressman leaving office before his/her term ends should be allowed to name their own replacement. After all, the Senator or Congressman got the seat they are now leaving in a fair & open election. If the governor of that state, or if the state legislature do not like the pick, than the Governor and/or legislature can initiate new elections to replace Senator or Congressman's pick.

    January 25, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Sue

    John Boehner is a liar. He said that 200 billion dollars were going to be allocated to contraceptives on Meet the Press. He lied.
    There is no such mention in HR 1424 in the entire bill.
    He is trying to incite violence from the ultra right wing... people who are aliterate.

    January 25, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Sean

    I for one, a Republican, actually agree with Sen. Feingold's perception of "anachronism," and in him introducing an amendment to this affect.

    Democratic Governor's are so liberal and self-sustaining that it's not even funny anymore.

    January 25, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. bj

    That's brilliant, change the consttution because some people disagree with the way it works. So you blow a bunch of tax payer money to hold a special election to replace someone, disrupt peoples lives and disrupt the senate inself. Carolinme Kennedy, by the way is about as unqualified to be a senator as kermit the frog.

    January 25, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Kirk

    Great solution from a great senator. More Democrats should follow Feingold's thoughtful Progressivism. He is pragmatic but principled. Go Russ!

    January 25, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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