Lawmaker seeks to end gubernatorial appointment of U.S. senators
With the Illinois governor charged with having tried to sell President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat — and New York’s governor accused by critics of having held a circus-like review to fill the one formerly held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Feingold says voters — not governors — should make the call in special elections.
“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,” Feingold said.
Feingold said he will introduce this week what would be just the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the framework for American democracy that has been in effect since 1789.
His proposed amendment would require that all senators, just like all members of the House of Representatives, be elected.
Initially, senators were elected by state legislatures. But the 17th amendment, adopted in 1913, made them elected instead by voters.
A third of the Senate is routinely elected ever two years. But in case of a death or a resignation, governors in most states are empowered to appoint a replacement.
Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, said that as chairman of the Senate Judiciary’s subcommittee on the Constitution, he plans to soon hold a hearing on his proposed amendment.
Untold hundreds of amendments to the Constitution have been proposed. But there’s a reason why just 27 have been approved. To become law, it has to be passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate, and then within a set time period, three-quarters of the states.
Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Segar – A worker changes a flag at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., which houses the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, during the January 20 inauguration of President Barack Obama.