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. Jacque Bauer

    Yes, we do need special elections to keep all of these corrupt Democratic governors from further destroying our governmental fabric. Nevertheless, give him a slurpy and Feingold looks like he could host TMZ.

    January 25, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. BKMC

    The constitution is not a document to be changed overnight, the senator has to think twice before moving in this direction. So the senator has to think also about the case when people resigns what will happen like the case of the NY governor himself. The miscariage in Illanois should not create a move to the extreem. We all love Ms Carolyne Kennedy but she doesn't deserve it because of her lack of experience and that is all and therefore she does not get it, Patterson has not created any circus around this decision making. But if people believe that meritocracy is a dream, I am not sure about that because dynastic predispositions are excluded from the same US constitution..

    January 25, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. Jason

    Feingold has always been a senator for the people and the constitution. He was the only one to vote against the original patriot act. What a great man!

    January 25, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Jerry Hammes


    Enough appointment abuse. We want all vacated elected positions to be filled via a special election with 180 days of the vacancy.

    We continually see political abuse in Illinois at all levels and in all circumstances, particularly in Chicago and Cook County with the John Stroger family (Cook County Board President and his son), the Lipinski family (retired U.S. Representative and his son), the Emil Jones family (retiring State Senate leader and his son), not to mention the Daley Family history.

    January 25, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. David

    I think you mean Rod not Roy.

    "First it was the uproar over the appointment by Illinois Gov. Roy Blagojevich"

    January 25, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Francisco Cardenas

    In my lifetime this is the first time there has been any controversy over Governors selecting senators to fill seats ... Russ is a good guy ... but let's handle the business at hand and not let this be a distraction!

    January 25, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. mike in central va

    One single person shouldn't have the power to speak for every person in the entire constituancy. It completely negates democracy. Finding a inexpensive alternative is the hurdle that stands in the way.

    January 25, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Joanna

    I agree. One should only be allowed to run for one office at a time.

    January 25, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. Fred

    I love those people who complain the it would be "changing the Constitution" if we initiated special elections – the Constitution was changed to allow Gubernatorial appointee as replacements...

    January 25, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. Humored In Texas

    Please note that a Democrat made this suggestion. Any minute now I expect to see a post from a right-winger claiming they had the idea years ago but were stymied by the (fill in a perceived story about Dems here).

    The GOP will never go for this because it could take what power they had away from them if the people are allowed to make a voting decision on a replacement.

    Personal to bj:

    Caroline Kennedy is more qualified to be a Senator than Palin was to be VP.

    January 25, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  11. steve r

    one step further would be to put term limits on all elected officials...not just the president....

    Caroline Kennedy was in no way qualified to serve in congress because she does not have a criminal record...............

    VOTE THEM ALL OUT.....it simple

    January 25, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. Hayden

    Senators should be elected by the people and not appointed by governor's to fill a vacancy.

    January 25, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. Dnost

    Allen, you are an idiot it might get rid of special interests but would definitely encourage cronyism the like of which illistrate perfectly the situation with Blago.

    January 25, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. Jerry

    Aha, the old liberal ploy. Bipartisan = do it our way. Constitution doesn't suit us = just change it.

    January 25, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    This is in response to Sue's irrelevant comment. The word is not "aliterate" (whatever that means) it is "illiterate", like YOU Sue!

    January 25, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  16. semp

    Caroline Kennedy ... besides being the grand daughter of a rum runner and Nazi sympathiser she offered what?

    January 25, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. Ken

    Sue, YOU are "aliterate". I have no idea why a few liberals continue to bash anyone that does not totally agree with them. You are supposed to be so "progressive" and "open-minded"- and many of you are- but there are always a few like Sue that gives everyone else a bad name.

    January 25, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  18. Joe M

    Ummm toby in Illinois....um, the presidential election is done with the electoral college format. your post made no sense.

    January 25, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. John in Pa

    The US Constitution is fine as is.Changing the Constitution won't make lying,thieving bums into honest,upright citizens.

    January 25, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  20. Matt

    I can't believe I actually agree with something this dope supports. As long as special elections are the replacement I think this needs to happen for the integrity of our political system.

    January 25, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. Nathaniel Bates

    Leave the constitution intact. It has served us well for hundred of years. Because some disagree wilth the appointment of Rolland Buris and Kirsten Gillibrand is no reason to change. Senator Feingold is playing politics and trying to get attention. The fact few of us outside of Wisconsin ever knew he existed is clear evidence of his political intent.

    January 25, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. In Moderation in GA

    This would be a good idea except for how long it would take to replace a Congressperson using a special election. If the people don't want their governor appointing a replacement maybe they could accept having the state legislatures pick the replacement.

    January 25, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. lucy

    doesn't he have anything important to do? there is nothing wrong with these interim appointments and what alternative is he proposing? another zillion dollars spent on campaigning and long bitter fights while states remain unrepresented? it amazes me the nits some people can find to pick!

    January 25, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. John G

    So let me get this straight.

    Blagojevich makes a legal but unpopular appointment that Democratic leadership can't block, Patterson denies a high ranking member of Obama's campaign team her "birthright" and the answer is to change the Constitution?

    Between the attempted illegal blocking of Burris' appointment and this potential amendment, I for one am very nervous about the direction that this current Congress is taking.

    January 25, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  25. Ben

    "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."

    Ummm ... yeah there's this funny thing about our Constitution I like to call the Amendment Process. Those crazy Founding Fathers had this weird idea that from time to time we might need to update things.

    I don't know that I care for the idea of holding special elections either, but the ability of governors to appoint them has some pretty serious drawbacks. Should we amend the Constitution to get rid of it? I don't know. But please don't pretend to be a fan of the Constitution when you belittle one of its signal brilliancies.

    January 25, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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