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. M

    All they want to do is open Pandora’s box! It takes more than one Senator to change the Constitution
    The individual states need to approve any change in the Constitution. While were at it let's change 2nd amendment rights to bare arms, natural born American to be president on and on…………………
    Don’t you just love it when the Democrats are in charge!

    January 25, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. Fairfax Voter

    bj writes (sarcastically)

    That's brilliant, change the consttution because some people disagree with the way it works.


    Umm, yes. That is indeed the fundamental concept behind amending the Constitution. If part of it does not work, or does not work as intended, there is a democratic process, dictated in the Constitution itself, for changing the document through an amendment. What's wrong with that? The entire Bill of Rights was added in this way.

    January 25, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  3. wishing

    If you want to tighten up how states replace their elected representatives, don't ask the federal government to step in with a Constitutional amendment. Each state should make its own adjustments/changes. This is a democratic, state's rights issue. Don't give it up.

    January 25, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  4. BadgerFan

    Another reason to continue voting for Russ here in Wisc!!

    January 25, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. Dave G

    Sounds like another unfunded federal mandate...

    January 25, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. Joe in MN

    There you go!

    January 25, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  7. Dan from California

    I agree with Feingold, but If he really wants Senators to be responsive to their constituents he would include a change to 2 year terms for the Senators. That would certainly do a lot to make them pay more attention to the wishes of you constituents.

    January 25, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. Kris in Denver

    While this idea looks good at first glance, it's all a balancing act. The cost to an affected state is not small, and such a state will not have the benefit of full representation until after a special election. I'll agree that the current process isn't particularly pretty (I like Bill Ritter, but I'm still finding out who the heck Michael Bennett is), but I'm not convinced that the costs in terms of time and money outweigh the benefits of a special election.

    January 25, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  9. Keith

    We don't need to (nor can afford to) have this amendment because of one corrupt Governor. The point of appointment is to have seamless representation in Congress. If someone dies, we need someone in place the next time Congress meets, not after a 4 month campaign. Sorry Russ not with you on this one.

    January 25, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  10. New Gov Too!

    I whole heartedly agree, being from NY and having to dal with the incompetency of our interim Governor, and now this whoever Senator. I understand there are fuding issues, but I believe the people's voice and right to FAIR and ELECTED representation far exceeds anything else.

    And hey there Paterson – NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION! Ya jerk!

    January 25, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |



    January 25, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. jerry

    Good idea, but can it get the traction it needs in the states? This type of appointment creates that "king-maker" type of government that empowers people like blago & even paterson (though i like him, paterson). People like Roland Burris & Kristen Gilldebrand weren't elected to the US Senate. If they are supposed to be there, they can run. Roland Burris had lost a statewide election for Gov. 3 times in a row....do you think Illinois voters want him as their senator?

    January 25, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. Tony, Stafford Springs, Connecticut

    Power to the people!

    January 25, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  14. Anna, Missouri

    I think some on this site just like to be oppositional, no matter what the subject. Allen- How would allowing state legislatures to appoint all of the Senators reduce influence by special interest? State legislatures are subjected to lobbying, just like the US Congress. Who does that lobbying?-Special Interest Groups.

    Also, Toby in Illinois, the Electoral College represents us already. Each State is given so many Electoral College votes depending on that States population plus two. Are you suggesting that we elect people to the "Electoral College" and then just say to them "we trust you to decide who the president should be"???? Most of these people are party activists already. Don't you want a little say in who the President is?

    Are people really willing to give up their voting rights and let just a few people select our leaders?

    January 25, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. Morgan

    Actually, a clear reading of the Constitution already states that open Senator seats should be settled by special elections. Appointments are a clear violation of the Constitution already. But if it takes another amendment to get the state governments to follow the Constitution then I'm all for it.

    I'm simply amazed that we have idiots screaming against this plan because it 'violates' the Constitution, when in fact it is a reaffirmation of what the Constitution already states.

    How hard it is to look this up. The Constitution is a mere google search away.

    January 25, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. Bill

    I have a better idea; let's return to the original process established by the founding fathers and get rid of popular vote elections for US Senators. Then we wouldn't have them always whoring around for money from lobbyists for re-election campaigns

    January 25, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  17. MR E

    I know why Russ didnt run for president , he is such a fine senator who always speaks the truth. Lets know when you are ready for President Mr Feingold, we will support you.

    January 25, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  18. Axel

    Special elections cost huge amounts of money that would be better spent on other things. I think Allen has the best solution offered here. All such appointments should be made by the state legislatures not the state governors. And specially not greedy self-serving governors like Blago. The people of Illinois should be ashamed for electing people like him. How many crooked governors are they going to vote in? Blago is the fourth one in recent memory. It makes me ashamed to be from Illinois.

    And as a side note for Toby in Illinois, the Electoral College is a completely outdated concept that should be totally eliminated. It served it's purpose when America was a small, mostly uneducated, rural country with poor communication abilities. But now all that has changed. People are more intelligent, and in spite of the vast size of this nation, communications have improved greatly over the past 200 or so years. We no longer need the Electoral College. Let the people decide who runs our government.

    January 25, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  19. Happy Camper

    I think we should end the federal reserve's control over our money. Don't go after symptoms, go after the origin of 90% of our problems.

    If you borrow $10,000 from the federal reserve at %5. The fed creates $10,000 out of thin air and puts it into circulation and we have to payback $10,500. They only created 10,000, not 10.500, so you'll never be able to pay it back

    January 25, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  20. Mike

    I would agree with him if he also proposes in his Amendment:
    1. Term limits on state and federal representatives and senators.
    2. Getting rid of the electoral college.
    3. If a person decided to run for President or Vice President he/her must give up and current state/federal position they currently hold.
    4. Primary campaigning be prohibited until 6 months prior to an election.
    5. No outside money of any type be allowed – no PACS, no Corporate, no lobby money – no outside money.

    January 25, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  21. O

    It's great in theory, but it would cost way too much. States are already in too much date. Maybe another day.

    January 25, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. Jenny

    This Senator is just ticked off because he and other Dems wanted C. Kennedy to have the Senate seat and they didn't get their way...States have rights too!!! Allowing the Dems to change the U.S. Constitution – which by the way happens to be the oldest in the world still surviving would be the start to changing our checks and balances for the States vs. The Fed. I think it's about time the state of New York had a U.S. Senator to represent the millions of people living in upstate.New York. Protect and Defend the Constitution – do not allow the cronies to ammend one word in it just because a Kennedy didn't get their way.

    January 25, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  23. Nick, Urbana IL

    Who's Roy Blagojevich, and why did he replace Rod Blagojevich?

    I also agree with Allen. Senators should be chosen by state legislatures to limit the power of the federal government over the states.

    January 25, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. WilliamTell

    Senator Fiengold needs to read the consitution first and remember it the peoples law not his or his party.

    This is another example of the beginning of a dicatorship.

    beware of congressmen and Senators who for their own party wants to dictate to the people their own political sham.

    January 25, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  25. ralph tyler

    how about limiting each senator to one consecutive term?

    these people are just gigantic bozos – they should, at a minimum, rotate.

    January 25, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
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