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. FreeNLovIt

    No!!! to special election!! The pressure is finding money so let's fix this issue.

    January 25, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  2. zepplin

    as a republican i say leave it alone and let the states decide their own business and keep the inept senators the hell out of states business. a vacant senate spot cannot be allowed to be vacant for the "time it would take the senate to make a decision" and the states would not be adequately represented. why don't these senators just do their jobs and forget about changing the Constitution of these great United States. they spend more time picking out "the tie of the day," than they do really attending to the peoples business. have you ever noticed how much better things go when they are "out of session" and not mucking up the works of our government," trying to make it better." they have lost the respect of the American people viewing them as "out for their own personal good." don't triffle with the Constitution...for you know not what you do...idiots all.

    January 25, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  3. MsRotten

    I'm all for special elections!

    January 25, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  4. Marge

    What an idea. So sensible. How did someone on the senate come up with it.

    January 25, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  5. Joshua Tree

    It wouldn't matter, we would still end up with Blogo-type politicians in the senate. Heck, Feingold might be one of them for all I know.

    January 25, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  6. Nheit627

    I agree – this should have been done when they changed how senators were selected the first time. GO RUSS GO!

    January 25, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. Mark R.

    This is one of the best ideas I've heard out of Congress in a long time! Representatives to legislative bodies are supposed to be elected by the public, not appointed by another politician. Let the people speak and elect who they see fit. Hopefully the amendment will require special elections to replace senators and congressmen.

    Somebody earlier commented that this is more power to the Federal gov't. This isn't true at all all it does is put all states on an equal footing by requiring each one hold a special election.

    January 25, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. Kevin O'Brien

    The current system does little harm and saves lots of money.
    These are short-term appointments.
    We've got bigger problems to solve.

    January 25, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. John Jay Daly

    If it's possible, I'd add an item to require staes to have a "run off" if the election were close, such as Georgia and Louisiana now do - and MN should.


    January 25, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. UnitedStates1776

    Russ has a good idea. Just look at all the disruption and controversy that happened in both Illinois and New York. Just hold a special election and let the people decide. It can't be that much more expensive than all the collateral damage that's been going on with Blagojevich and Paterson. I don't think either one has time to go to work anymore. They just give interviews and go on talk shows to manage all the spin. Much better to just hold a special election.

    January 25, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  11. Greg

    I agree that this is too big a burden on the taxpayer – it works most of the time, why let a bad apple and one drawn-out indecision ruin the whole thing?

    And Sue, you're a moron. It's "illiterate." Stay on point with your comments.

    January 25, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  12. Becky

    Excellent idea by Sen. Feingold. This needed to be done.

    As a side note, Blago's first name is Rod, not Roy.

    January 25, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  13. Jon

    this is retarded. who represents a state in congress is a state question. if someone vacates that representation, filling it is a state question. if the states want to do silly things like have a governor appoint a replacement (rather than spend tons of cash on special elections), good for the states. if the people of a state don't like how their state fills vacancies in the Congress, they should take it up with their state legislators.

    January 25, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  14. proudliberal-independent

    good. noone should be appointed to represent the people.

    January 25, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  15. irish

    Great, This is the way it starts. Start making small changes to the constitution. Why would they change anything with the constitution. Because it does'nt fix what they want to do,. As usual.

    January 25, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  16. Dixie

    I agree that appointments are not the right way to go, but please be cautious changing the constitution.

    January 25, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  17. Andrew

    While well-intentioned, cost becomes a factor here- since every one of these would be a special election, the appointee (or winner) would need to run again when their predecessor's term ends. Unless the federal government is willing to pay for the special elections, a special state-wide election for one candidate is too expensive for a state to conduct.

    Also, Kermit the Frog is qualified- he meets the age and residency requirements to be a US Senator (he even lives in NY!). And we know his position on the environment, 'It's not easy being green..."

    January 25, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. Robert

    Feingold is wasting time and taxpayer dollars. Two-thirds of the state will NEVER give up the right for their governor to appoint someone to a vacant Senate seat. Too much power already rests with the federal government as it is. The U.S. consitiution is just fine the way it is.

    January 25, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  19. Liam

    The framers intended the constitution to be a living document. The Government is supposed to make amendments to it overtime in order to continue to best serve the country. If we stuck exactly to the constitution and never amended it, then our president would only be considered 3/5 of a person. This amendment is necessary and I think it would be a positive change to the constitution. I hope it gains enough support in congress.

    January 25, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  20. Gene in PA

    Repeal the 17th amendment and go back to the way things were supposed to run!

    January 25, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. Les - Wisconsin

    I do not wish to fund the expense of "special elections". Our politicians should be looking for means to simplify the structure and lower the cost for taxpayers. Russ, there appear to be many more important concerns for our country.

    January 25, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. commie mommie

    @ Sue

    You did mean illiterate right? No better way to make your point about people that you consider ignorant than by misspelling a name that you are calling them...geez

    January 25, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Alex

    Feingold's bill has merit. Enough of this appointment stuff or "whose your buddy" appointments. Let the citizens vote in who they want to represent them for all elected positions. This way people will stop whining about who got appointed or who didn't. It should also stop this out of area/out of state politicians by requiring residency up to and including two years prior to the election.

    January 25, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. D.Tin

    What is the big deal. It has been this way all along, now when we have one or 2 problem items, instead of addressing the individual issue, let's change the Constitution!!! Stop being whiners and move on..

    January 25, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. Timothy

    Yes it should be a vote by the people. And I also agree with Toby about the Electoral College. I also think its time we put a term limit on Judges in the supreme court and I think senators should be limited to two terms.

    We need to be able to bring new blood in to our government.

    January 25, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
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