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. Brad

    I completely agree. These are offices which should be decided by a special vote of the citizens.

    January 25, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Rob Stumpf

    He is trying to incite violence from the ultra right wing… people who are aliterate.<<<

    Don't you mean "illiterate"?

    If the shoe fits...!

    January 25, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Chris

    I think it's a great idea, senators should be elected...period. No way should someone who gets up to a 6 year term be appointed to the legislature. And I hope the rest of Congress goes along with it. Although knowing politics, I have my doubts. It's good to see someone stand up and make a nice gutsy call like this though.
    (and I'm a Republican myself)

    January 25, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  4. Isauro Bargas

    You folks just have no clue. Consider the ramifications behind this. Clearly, this is s state issue. Why is the federal government now trying to breach the trust between the states and the federal government. This is just the beginning. Soon, the federal government will try to trump states rights all together. Don't be fools people.

    January 25, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. Ron

    I think that this could go one of two ways, either having a special election or leave the seat vacant until the districts next planned election. Considering most places have elections twice a year (around March and November) have the seat filed at those points and those points only.

    Personally as a Independent-Democrat I am all about saving the public from the waste of funding on a special election, Its not that big of a deal to have seat vacant for a few months, not like they Senate has done anything extrordinary in the last 30-40 years. They have spent more time vollying the same polices - over and over again.

    January 25, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. TCM

    what a jerk; he didn't have a complaint until a more "conservative," dem was placed in the senate (Gillibrand)...now, it's a circus...oh yeah, it wasn't a circus when they wanted to select Burris...because he's black...and that would offend someone if they dare say anything.......and in addition, Gillibrand supports gunowners. Lib dems are such indiots.

    January 25, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. Subu

    Not that this comment will make it past the CNN moderators, but here goes:
    Good for Feingold – special elections are the way to go. There's supposed to be one in 2010 for Clinton's seat; why not hold it sooner?

    To Sean – look up Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) and Bill Ritter (D-CO). They are not conventional (comic-book) liberals, sorry to disappoint you. Kirsten Gilibrand is not a liberal either.
    And anyway, the country voted for the second-most liberal Senator by a wide margin, remember? Conservative nutjobs had eight years, made a mess of it, and so have been losing for a while. Get over it.

    January 25, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. Henry

    Senetor Feingold,

    Leave the Constitution alone. What happened in ILL will happen again. That is our system and there are problems with any system.]

    Live with it.

    January 25, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. Lori

    Just because Feingold disagrees with recent appointments is no reason to change the Constitution of the United States.

    Feingold . . . get over it.

    January 25, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Glenda

    I agree with an amendment. It's ridiculous the way things are now. There is just too much room for things to work against the people.

    While he is at it, I hope he pushes for a change with how gubernatorial impeachment hearings are carried out. As things are now, anyone can accuse a governor and have him/her impeached without evidence.

    January 25, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. Eric

    Makes perfect sense to me. If virtually every parliamentary system in the world can get by with bi-elections, then why can't the US?

    January 25, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. tdlc

    let the voices of the people be heard. let the people choose their senators. give us back our power to decide, and elect our congressmen and women.

    January 25, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. Mariann Pepitone

    I believe the governor has the right to appoint who shall fill a senate seat in his state however, I also believe because Hillary Clinton had that seat, he wanted another woman to fill it leaving Cuomo out. He would have been a better choice than Kristen. Apparently Kennedy knew that she would not be selected and decided to bow out. I think he would not have chosen her, one reason she was pushing too hard to fill it. Now we have Ted Kennedy in an uproar and some of the New Yorker's. Look for Paterson maybe not getting re-elected to office again. Cuomo should run against him for governor.

    January 25, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Jay

    Sue – what does this HR 1424 have to do with this story???

    BTW – they are not aliterate. If they were it would be illiterate.

    So much for the "aliterate" ultra right wing!

    January 25, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. lucy

    It is a good idea only if there is a better alternative. Thus, more details are needed.

    January 25, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  16. Deborah

    @ Allen

    How would going back to allowing state legislatures to appoint US Senators be a blow to special inerests? Don't you tink that this would have lobbyists throwing money around the state capitols like they were at a ticker-tape parade?

    January 25, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. JMK

    Sue's comment is one of the funniest I've seen posted in a while. Ignoring that it is completely off topic, the incorrect spelling of illiterate is hilarious. If it's on purpose, that's funny enough. If its' unintentional then it's even funnier.

    January 25, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. Debra Cahalane

    Someone is making sense! Elected officials should be elected.

    January 25, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Ed

    This actually makes perfect sense to change it. The rule made sense when the Leg. of states choose the Sentors prior to the Constitution being amended, but since we elect them now, it would make sense to align these 2 rules in the Constitution.

    January 25, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. Chris E

    I agree with Feingold, we should vote on those seats when they need to be fill instead of letting the governor put who he/she want their.

    January 25, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. Griff

    All your Crap CNN.... CNN talk big today.... You are are not a Satelite CNN.... Just America... Brain Wash all your Kids.... With your Crap...
    They just become an extention of you.... Your KIds have no Indipendance.... That could have been you.... Shut up in a space under the Stairs... Like Oliver Twist.... He Ran Away....

    January 25, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. Big Tom

    Let the Governor recommend a candidate of his party and allow the opposition party to select a candidate. Then have an election, allowing the citizens of the state to vote in the person they want.

    January 25, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  23. Alex

    A sensible and highly democratic idea, how come Harry Reid never comes up with anything as worthwhile?

    January 25, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  24. Kevin

    Putting the appointments in the hands of the legislatures rather than a statewide election would INCREASE the influence of special intrests, not decrease it. And Toby, the Electoral College does elect the president.

    This amendment is a good idea, as would be one to remove the electoral college and make the presidential elections decided by popular vote.

    January 25, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. Spencer

    Governors should have the power to appoint senators... so just be sure not to elect crappy governors! The power of the people is in the House, and the power of the states lies in the Senate. Taking more power away from state governments only makes the federal government more powerful than it needs to be. This isn't what the founding fathers had envisioned.

    January 25, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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