Is Caroline Kennedy qualified to be a U.S. senator?

December 30, 2008

Slightly more than half of Americans say Caroline Kennedy has what it takes to serve in the U.S. Senate, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Poll. 

Kennedy, 51, is campaigning to fill the New York senate seat held by Hillary Clinton, who has been nominated for Secretary of State.

The only person who gets a vote is New York Gov. David Paterson, who will appoint any replacemUSA/ent for Clinton. 

Kennedy, a lawyer, has been involved in education issues but has never held office. She has name recognition and membership in an American political dynasty. Her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, is one of the most powerful members of the Senate. 

But is Caroline Kennedy qualified to a senator?

Fifty-two percent of Americans say “yes” and 42 percent say “not” qualified, according to the poll of 1,013 adults published on Monday. 

Which raises the question, what exactly qualifies anyone to be a senator?

The U.S. Constitution lists only three qualifications: 

-you must be at least 30 

-you have to be a U.S. citizen for nine years

-you have live in the state from which you are elected 

That’s it. 
For the record there have been 180 senators appointed since 1913 to seats vacated by death, expulsion or resignation.

Some have had family connections — like Muriel Humphrey of Minnesota and Jean Carnahan of Missouri, widows appointed to fill seats to which their husbands were elected.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg at John F. Kennedy Awards ceremony at Harvard in November)


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No, not qualified at all. I would like to see what all other pollsters say about her being qualified to be US Senator. CNN is suspect and should be dismissed as being completely partisan.

It is a travesty if she is appointed as a senator. But I don’t expect anything better from the democratic party. They profess to be for the people, but in reality, they are about power and will say and do anything to gain that power. Elitists who look down on the rest of us.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

i don’t think she’s qualified at all. and in my eyes, that makes her perfect for the senate. i would rather vote in an inexperienced, unqualified democrat over an experienced qualified republican. we have way to many career politicians. politics isn’t supposed to be about careers. how are these people supposed to represent us when they AREN’T us? i think inexperienced average joes are exactly the kind of people we need to represent us right now.

Posted by Luke | Report as abusive

Caroline Kennedy is not an average joe and can’t be compared to one.

Speaking of average joe’s, Joe the Plumber should move to New York and be appointed senator. Using all the ideas you have stated about inexperience, career politicians, etc.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

It is outrageous that Caroline think she’s entitled to a Senate seat just for being born a Kennedy and being a Mom. Much of the Kennedy fortune was made by running alcohol in from Canada during prohibition. Maybe if she really cares about justice and the economy she can arrange to have her family assets seized under grand-fathered forfeiture laws. I heard on the news this morning that this woman has never even had a job. How on earth can she represent the “Average Joe” if she has never had to work for a living??

Posted by Naz Marta Zamoyski | Report as abusive

but then again….what was Hillary’s ualifications……married to Slick Willie

Posted by ralf tlomsum | Report as abusive

How could a someone who voted for Sarah Palin to be our Vice President say that Caroline Kennedy is not qualified to be a Senator.

Posted by Gene Tackett | Report as abusive

Kennedy has insulated herself from politics all her life. She has never even voted. No doubt she is a great mind and her work with the school systems of great value. So what?
Her lineage should not curry such special attention. The idea that you can avoid politics until it suits you and then jump in and become governor is absurd.
Governors are appointed but the position should be earned to a certain degree.
So far she has no platform other than she is a Kennedy.
The position is too important for her to try her political legs in. Segwaying in by becoming Mayor of a city not fast enough?

Posted by riverguide | Report as abusive

Please excuse me, i meant SENATOR, not Gov.

Posted by riverguide | Report as abusive

Just remember, Palin was a candidate and the voting public made their decision.

Kennedy is not being considered by the voting public. The decision is being made by one person, the governor.

As far as I can tell, the public doesn’t want her to be appointed.

You are mixing apples and oranges comparing the Kennedy and Palin to each other.

Kennedy hasn’t improved her prospects with her recent interviews. It is a travesty the media hasn’t come down as hard on her as they did Palin. Typical left wing media bias.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

YES she is qualified. A highly educated attorney, highly intelligent, classy woman (never mind the last name).
We all know there are senators sitting in seats right now that SHOULD NOT be – retired. Go Caroline Kennedy!

Posted by Madison | Report as abusive

Actually TC it’s more like an apples and zebra comparison. Kennedy is educated, Palin is, well we all know the minimal extent of her education. Kennedy has raised millions of dollars for education in NY while Palin wanted to ban books. Kennedy is a lawyer (NY and DC) while Palin needed to hire one. Kennedy has great family connections while Palin’s family connections are up on drug charges. Kennedy has avoided politics up till now, Palin has sought every opportunity to advance herself in her “political career”.
Apples are good for you and delicious while zebras are wild, unpredictable and leave dung everywhere.


Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Madison, what has being a woman got to do with this issue? An individual is either electable or not irrespective of gender.

If someone had said that an individual should get the job because they were a “classy man” they would get absolutely pilloried, probably by blinkered feminist berks like you.

Posted by Nick Riley | Report as abusive

Palin was by far the best candidate for V. P. She didn’t stand up for the right to kill little black babies or children in general. When faced with couric and gibson they both talked down to her. Her husband was accused of incest on SNL and the libs never said anything. She stood up for Jesus when Obama just wets his finger and votes present. People hate her for her values and this is the main reason they spewed so much venom at her. Caroline Kennedy on the other hand may or may not be qualified to be senator of NY. But in no way is she as smart and qualified as Palin. Caroline Kennedy she is no BARBIE either. She looks like a lemon that has been sucked dry. It wouldn’t hurt her to be like Palin running 5 miles a day and hitting the gym. And it really is okay to eat a few carbs.

Posted by keith | Report as abusive

Dear Readers:

Caroline Kennedy is a very lucky woman,who has had some major misfortunes. Daddy was the President, and Step-Daddy was one of the most known shipping magnates on the Earth(Aristotle Onassis). Caroline is rich,pampered and unexperienced. I am happy she was not appointed to the Senate. She need to be a small town mayor or alderperson to gain experience. Caroline you didn’t want the noisy journalist to learn of your multiple homes and endless wealth anyway.

Posted by Jose | Report as abusive