Yellowstone
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Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:47 am

Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has announced that he plans to introduce an amendment to the US Constitution for consideration by Congress:

Quote:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, issued the following statement today on plans to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the Senate by state governors and require special elections in the event of a Senate seat vacancy.
“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. 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. I plan to introduce a constitutional amendment this week to require special elections when a Senate seat is vacant, as the Constitution mandates for the House, and as my own state of Wisconsin already requires by statute. As the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I will hold a hearing on this important topic soon.”

http://thepage.time.com/feingold-statement-on-amendment-proposal/

Any thoughts? I happen to think this is a smart move; citizens should have the right to elect their representatives, and this helps to extend that right.
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dxing
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:56 am



Quoting Yellowstone (Thread starter):
Any thoughts?

Yes, it's called trampling States rights and since in order for the amendment to pass he needs 3/4's of the States to go along with it, it wil die right where it started, in the Senate.
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LTU932
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:37 am

It's not uncommon for a member of any kind of parliament to be replaced by an appointee in case of resignation or removal from the position during the term. I don't think the US Senate should dictate policy on that through a constitutional amendment. Instead, what the states themselves can do, is have people who can jump in as such replacements elected through the senator.

What I mean by that is: Either the party or the senator/senator-nominee can designate replacements prior to the election, to have the succession during the term (e.g. if the senator resigns or is dismissed from the senate) pre-defined in advance. Therefore, if a senator leaves, then the first replacement will automatically take over for that senator, without having the governor designate them post-resignation and without the need to call for new elections. The replacement can however choose if he does want to take the seat or not, which is why a minimum of two possible replacement senators would have to be designated, plus that new senator would only stay in the senate throughout the rest of the original senator's term and can only stay longer if elected during the regular election cycle of the state.

This way, you avoid controversies through a governor appointing the replacement and also the need for early elections. However, as said before, this has to be determined by the states themselves, and if they don't want to implement something like my suggestion, so be it, it's their choice and their choice alone.
 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:44 am



Quoting DXing (Reply 1):
Yes, it's called trampling States rights

Why is it trampling states rights.
If the voters elect the senator in the first place it seems only fair that those same voters elect a mid term replacement. It confuses me why a Gubernatorial appointment is more a demonstration of states rights than letting the voters of the state choose.

Quoting DXing (Reply 1):
it wil die right where it started, in the Senate.

Perhaps, but 3/4 of the states agreed to the 17th amendment so they might go along with this.. or not!.

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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:49 am



Quoting StealthZ (Reply 3):
Why is it trampling states rights.
If the voters elect the senator in the first place it seems only fair that those same voters elect a mid term replacement. It confuses me why a Gubernatorial appointment is more a demonstration of states rights than letting the voters of the state choose.

Because it's deciding how all 50 states feel about the issue from the floor of the US senate without asking the people how they want their representation handled. It's a fundamental violation of how the US Constitution works. It's a cockamamie idea and like DX said, it will quickly die. If there's enough public or PAC traction to get rid of the current system in the wake of the Blago scandal, then there will be a citizen referendum on the issue. If not, things will continue as they are.

Feingold is still a bit too in love with being a lawyer and seems to like spending a lot of his time on things like this. Get back to work Russ - the economy's not so hot in your state.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:57 am



Quoting StealthZ (Reply 3):
Why is it trampling states rights.

Because some people look at any case in which the federal government tells states what to do as a violation of states' rights. Presumably DX feels that states should be free to determine their own means of selecting replacement senators. However, in a case such as this where the new rule would protect the democratic process, I think the American public is best served by the federal government stepping in.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:09 am



Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 4):
Because it's deciding how all 50 states feel about the issue from the floor of the US senate without asking the people how they want their representation handled. It's a fundamental violation of how the US Constitution works.

No, it isn't. Feingold is following the amendment process as described in the Constitution, as has occurred with every proposed amendment. Any such amendment would have to pass both houses of Congress by a 2/3 majority, and then be approved by 3/4 of the states. The US Senate alone can't make this change; if it occurs, it will be with the approval of legislative bodies throughout the US, as the Framers intended. If the people do not want such an amendment to pass, they will have plenty of venues in which to make their voices heard.

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 4):
If there's enough public or PAC traction to get rid of the current system in the wake of the Blago scandal, then there will be a citizen referendum on the issue.

No amendment to the US Constitution has ever been proposed or ratified via a citizen referendum, so I don't see why you think that would work here.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:12 am



Quoting StealthZ (Reply 3):
If the voters elect the senator in the first place it seems only fair that those same voters elect a mid term replacement.

Or that the voters of that particular State decide whether to allow the Governor to name a Senator or have a special election. Part of the argument against a special election in Illinois was that a special election would take months and leave the State with only one Senator representing them. Senator Feingolds solution is to force the State to be shy a Senator or Congressperson.

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 4):
Because it's deciding how all 50 states feel about the issue from the floor of the US senate without asking the people how they want their representation handled.

 checkmark 

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 5):
However, in a case such as this where the new rule would protect the democratic process, I think the American public is best served by the federal government stepping in.

I guess you'll have to explain how it is "protecting" the democratic process. If President Obama had been interested in "protecting" the democratic process he would have resigned his seat after winning the democratic primary so two candidates could have run for his seat in the regular election. I have a problem with elected represenatives running for another office and not giving up their own. That is part of what has led to the problem Illinois. If you want to run for another office have the guts to put it all on the line.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:20 am

I think the 17th Amendment and Russ Feingold should both be repealed.
 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:31 am



Quoting DXing (Reply 7):
I guess you'll have to explain how it is "protecting" the democratic process.

Comparing a process in which a Senator is chosen by one man/woman, with one in which the Senator is chosen by the voters, I think the latter is inherently more democratic, in the same sense that the 17th Amendment made the selection of Senators more democratic.

Quoting DXing (Reply 7):
Senator Feingolds solution is to force the State to be shy a Senator or Congressperson.

Not necessarily. First, one should remember that House vacancies are already required to be filled by special election, according to the Constitution. Those special election cycles tend to take a few months, and I think it would be reasonable to set a time limit in the 3-4 month range for Senate special elections. That's not a terribly long time to be without a Senator; again, it happens in the House regularly. The amendment could also include a proviso that a temporary Senator could be appointed to serve until the special election.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:22 am



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 6):
Feingold is following the amendment process as described in the Constitution, as has occurred with every proposed amendment. Any such amendment would have to pass both houses of Congress by a 2/3 majority, and then be approved by 3/4 of the states. The US Senate alone can't make this change; if it occurs, it will be with the approval of legislative bodies throughout the US, as the Framers intended. If the people do not want such an amendment to pass, they will have plenty of venues in which to make their voices heard.

I think most people here are well aware of the Amendment candidate process and fully expect a US Senator to abide by those requirements. Clearly Feingold is doing so - but whether or not he is wasn't the argument. The argument is whether or not states' rights issues will come into play on this issue and given the massive differences in individual states' needs regarding their federal representation, a one-size fits all solution to vacancies seems premature at the very least. I'm merely stating that it would be very difficult to make this kind of change without at a least a few states having a problem with it.

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 6):
No amendment to the US Constitution has ever been proposed or ratified via a citizen referendum

Tell that to the suffragettes - one might be inclined to call all of those meetings in Syracuse everything but a citizen referendum. Except for the little fact that, ya know, they couldn't actually vote.

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 9):
Those special election cycles tend to take a few months, and I think it would be reasonable to set a time limit in the 3-4 month range for Senate special elections. That's not a terribly long time to be without a Senator; again, it happens in the House regularly.

Those changes are substantially different than the Feingold proposal.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:58 am

This is something worth considering. The Amendment procedures are quite particular and require a very high standard.
The appointment process as used in a number of states places far too much power in a Governor along with too much opportunity for corruption as we have seen in Illinois or internal party politics as we saw in New York State and probably has often occurred in the past. Appointments as a practical matter only go to someone of the same political party of the Governor. One who is appointed usually becomes the candidate in the next election so can be very critical to chances of a party keeping the seat. Appointments limit real choice by the voters and in some cases (like with Sen. Ted Kennedy) means some who would like to or should resign due to health during their terms, won't as concerned a person not of their party will be appointed. An appointment can also affect the balance of party power, especially in the Senate.
Appointments do have the advantage of keeping someone in the seat to make sure better access to money and power for a state in the Senate as well as making sure of representation of the citizens at maximum levels. Yes, there is the costs of special elections, but they could be tied into regular or primary elections.
I would also like to see an amendment or as part of this Amendment banning any Presidential Primaries or caucuses by the states before March 1st of the year of a Presidential election
 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:50 pm



Quoting MD-90 (Reply 8):
I think the 17th Amendment and Russ Feingold should both be repealed

Agreed on both. Feingold is fairly useless, and repealing the 17th Amendment would make state and local elections much more significant.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:08 pm

How would this be trampling states rights? Letting the people of the state decide who to represent them instead of one person deciding who to represent the state seems like a good idea to me. If, God forbid, something happened to Jeff Merkley or Ron Wyden so that they were not able to complete their term, I would want to decide who fills the seat. As much as I like our governer, why should he alone pick the next Senator?

Edit: Why is it that sometimes the spouse takes over the seat? When and where did that start?

[Edited 2009-01-27 09:10:35]
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:15 pm



Quoting Lowrider (Reply 12):
Agreed on both. Feingold is fairly useless, and repealing the 17th Amendment would make state and local elections much more significant.

I agree that it would make state and local elections more significant, but I don't see how that trumps the basic principle that people should be able to choose their legislative representatives.

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 10):
Tell that to the suffragettes - one might be inclined to call all of those meetings in Syracuse everything but a citizen referendum. Except for the little fact that, ya know, they couldn't actually vote.

So by "citizen referendum," you meant that any successful amendment would have to grow out of a groundswell of public support rather than one senator introducing it? If that's what you meant, you might be right. I was interpreting "referendum" in the more formal sense of citizens voting on a proposed law--that's what I meant by saying that amendments don't come from citizen referenda, since citizens don't directly vote on them.

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 10):
I'm merely stating that it would be very difficult to make this kind of change without at a least a few states having a problem with it.

I think the reason why Feingold sees this as a amendment-worthy issue is that, more specifically, a few states' governors would have a problem with it. I can hardly see a power-hungry governor willingly giving up the power to appoint a replacement Senator, even if that policy is not in the best interest of the state.

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 10):
Those changes are substantially different than the Feingold proposal.

I don't see how you can make that claim, when the proposed amendment hasn't even been written yet. He has said he wants special elections to replace Senate vacancies, but he hasn't elaborated on the specifics of that process.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:34 pm



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 14):
I agree that it would make state and local elections more significant, but I don't see how that trumps the basic principle that people should be able to choose their legislative representatives

It doesn't. They still directly elect the Representatives, and the Senators would be chosen by the through those the people chose in state and local elections. Just as originally intended. In either method, how are the people not choosing their legislative representations?
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:49 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 7):
Part of the argument against a special election in Illinois was that a special election would take months and leave the State with only one Senator representing them

You do realize Barack Obama left the Senate on November 16th, 2008, right? You remember when Bluuuu-goy-o-bitch picked Burris?? December 30th. He was sworn in January 15th... a full 2 months after Obama left the seat. Illinois had 1 senator representing them for 2 months so either way, they will be down to 1 for several months. Whats your argument now?  stirthepot 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:50 pm

Quite honestly, of all the constitutional amendment proposals I've seen, this one actually makes some of the most sense. There is no legitimate reason why the people should not be able to elect their U.S. senator. If they can do it under normal circumstances, why not under "special" circumstances?

The fact is, if this amendment, were it to pass (which I doubt it will), the states would've overwhelmingly decided this was a good idea, and any questions about the states' rights would've been quelled, at least by the appearances of the vote. Why should one man have the power to appoint a new senator, when under normal circumstances, the power is left at the hands of the voter?

In the interim, the governor could appoint a replacement until the election has been completed. That seems like a decent way of compromising the governor's power.

In my opinion, this is would be a far more democratic process than the current one. Part of the "states' rights" argument is to return the power to the people. This instance brings up an interesting paradox: what amounts to a federal mandate (read: not "power to the people") that provides more power to the people.  scratchchin 

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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:46 pm



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 9):
not a terribly long time to be without a Senator; again, it happens in the House regularly.

In the house a Respresenative is but one of 435. In the Senate one of 100. Big difference.

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 9):
The amendment could also include a proviso that a temporary Senator could be appointed to serve until the special election.

Talk about setting up a scheme ripe for abuse.

Quoting Seb146 (Reply 13):
How would this be trampling states rights?

Because the amendment would be a Federal one thus eliminating a States right to choose which way to operate their system.

Quoting Smcmac32msn (Reply 16):
You do realize Barack Obama left the Senate on November 16th, 2008

You do realize that a House Represenative generally covers a much smaller area than does a seat in the Senate? To run a special election for a Senator requires all the polling places in the State to be open, and candidates must run state wide. That's a far cry from a just the few precints a House Rep may cover. Additionally it wouldn't have taken 2 full months for President Obama's replacement to be named and seated if it had not been for a crooked Governor and an idiotic Senate Majority leader.
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slider
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:46 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 1):
Yes, it's called trampling States rights and since in order for the amendment to pass he needs 3/4's of the States to go along with it, it wil die right where it started, in the Senate.

BINGO!!!

Lock this thread now---the irrefutable point was made in the very first response!

It is a usurpation of states authority. And Feingold, like many corrupt power-bloated bureaucrats, just want to continue to run roughshod over states and into areas that they should not go.
 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:18 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 18):
In the house a Respresenative is but one of 435. In the Senate one of 100. Big difference.

How does one quantify that difference? A single Senator comprises 4 times as much of the body as a single representative, but what does that mean?

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 9):
The amendment could also include a proviso that a temporary Senator could be appointed to serve until the special election.

I think what a lot of states (including New York IIRC) do is a reasonable compromise: they permit appointment until the next regularly scheduled federal election, at which point an election for the seat is held. The term is whatever length necessary to return the election to its 'regular' schedule (2 years in New York's case since Clinton's term ends in 2012). That way, you have a caretaker Senator but don't have to worry about a special election.

Special elections present their own problems, including cost and low turnout.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:05 pm



Quoting Lowrider (Reply 15):
It doesn't. They still directly elect the Representatives, and the Senators would be chosen by the through those the people chose in state and local elections. Just as originally intended. In either method, how are the people not choosing their legislative representations?

I'm not saying that having state legislatures pick senators is anti-democratic; as you point out, an elected body is doing the selecting. However, it is more democratic to have senators chosen directly by the people. The old system of choosing senators, like the Electoral College, was an expression of the Founders' fear of the "unwashed masses" having too much say over who their leaders were, a fear that as a society we should be past by now.

Quoting DXing (Reply 18):
Talk about setting up a scheme ripe for abuse.

How is it any more ripe for abuse than the current system? Both involve gubernatorial appointments, but in the new system those appointments would only last for a few months, rather than for up to 2 years.

Quoting Slider (Reply 19):
BINGO!!!

Lock this thread now---the irrefutable point was made in the very first response!

It is a usurpation of states authority. And Feingold, like many corrupt power-bloated bureaucrats, just want to continue to run roughshod over states and into areas that they should not go.

So the 14th Amendment was wrong too, then? Obviously, that's an extreme case, but the federal government has a well-justified history of forcing states to expand the democratic process. And your argument that states' authority is being usurped doesn't follow. Moving appointment power from the governor of a state to the people of a state would select a Senator more responsive to the desires of the state, not less. The people are the state, not the government.

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 20):
I think what a lot of states (including New York IIRC) do is a reasonable compromise: they permit appointment until the next regularly scheduled federal election, at which point an election for the seat is held. The term is whatever length necessary to return the election to its 'regular' schedule (2 years in New York's case since Clinton's term ends in 2012). That way, you have a caretaker Senator but don't have to worry about a special election.

That's actually the case in all states that allow gubernatorial appointment - the appointment only lasts until the next federal general election.

Potentially useful information on ways of appointing new senators:
Fast special election, no interim appointment: 4 states (MA, OK, OR, WI)
Fast special election, interim gubernatorial appointment: 8 states (AK, AL, AR, LA, MI, TX, VT, WA)
No special election, gubernatorial appointment from same party as departing senator: 4 states (AZ, HI, UT, WY)
No special election, unrestricted gubernatorial appointment: 34 states (everyone else!)

From a political point of view, it's worth noting that we currently have 14 Democratic senators from states where their replacements would be chosen by Republican governors, and 14 Republican senators whose replacements would be chosen by Democrats. So in terms of removing partisanship as an issue, this is an opportune time to consider the amendment.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:14 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 18):
Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 9):
The amendment could also include a proviso that a temporary Senator could be appointed to serve until the special election.

Talk about setting up a scheme ripe for abuse.

More than the current one?  Yeah sure
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lowrider
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:38 pm



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 21):
fear of the "unwashed masses" having too much say over who their leaders were, a fear that as a society we should be past by now

Given some of the recent selections of the masses, maybe they were right.
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Cubsrule
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:51 pm



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 21):
I'm not saying that having state legislatures pick senators is anti-democratic; as you point out, an elected body is doing the selecting. However, it is more democratic to have senators chosen directly by the people.

That argument ignores, I think, the fact that special elections frequently have terrible turnout. Is selection by the governor followed by a special election in which 40% of the electorate participates more democratic than a special election in which 10% of the electorate participates? I'm not so sure there's a good answer to that.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:14 pm



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 21):
Moving appointment power from the governor of a state to the people of a state would select a Senator more responsive to the desires of the state, not less. The people are the state, not the government.

Then it is the people of that state to work to change it, NOT the role of the Federal government to impose it.

I'm not saying whether it's a good idea or not--in fact, that's entirely NOT the point. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the government perpetually does things that are allegedly "in the interest of the people" when it is very much not.

Good idea or otherwise, it's not within the bounds of the Federal government.
 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:34 pm



Quoting Slider (Reply 25):
Good idea or otherwise, it's not within the bounds of the Federal government.

...and that's why the federal government doesn't amend the constitution by itself, right?
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:07 pm



Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 24):
Is selection by the governor followed by a special election in which 40% of the electorate participates more democratic than a special election in which 10% of the electorate participates? I'm not so sure there's a good answer to that.

A fair point, but I think it is the access to the democratic process that matters. If in a special election 80% of the electorate "votes" that they don't care who represents them, that is sad, but reflects their preferences as voters.
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Blackbird
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendmen

Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:30 am

Honestly, I'd have to know the full contents of the Amendment to make a full opinion.

At least partially this seems to be reasonable bill especially after Blagojevich put a Senate-seat up to the highest-bidder which simply stinks of corruption. To make it worse, Blagojevich only got caught because he was so shameless about the whole thing.

However, though, from what it would seem I'd have to at least partially agree with DX, as much as I butt heads with him on almost every issue imaginable, I see a problem with the Federal Government imposing it's will on the individual states. Technically the Federal government probably has too much power as it is over the states compared to what our Founding Fathers had in mind.

I do see some exceptions (for example the 13th and 14th Amendments) -- I think it was probably good that slavery was ended and that citizenship would be declared based on a persons location of birth even though it was through Federal legislation.

I personally think that in this case it would constitute a major power grab by the Federal Government from the State Governments. The State governments are not supposed to simply be echo-chambers for the Federal-Governments -- they have their own responsibilities and their own rights.

If states want to revise their own procedures, though, that is different.


Blackbird

[Edited 2009-01-27 16:50:36]
 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:44 am



Quoting StealthZ (Reply 3):
Why is it trampling states rights.



Quoting Seb146 (Reply 13):
How would this be trampling states rights? Letting the people of the state decide who to represent them instead of one person deciding who to represent the state seems like a good idea to me

It's not all that hard: Different states have different procedures for appointing a new Senator if a replacement is needed. Using a Constitutional amendment to mandate a single policy strips the people of individual states of their right to decide for themselves how a replacement should be chosen. Whether significant or not, this is a net deduction in the power of the State governments.

The controversy created in the wake of Blagojevich probably has a lot of the public wanting a change in appointment procedures. But the people of individual states can revise their state constitutions far more easily than the U.S. Constitution.
 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:58 am



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 28):
I personally think that in this case it would constitute a major power grab by the Federal Government from the State Governments. The State governments are not supposed to simply be echo-chambers for the Federal-Governments -- they have their own responsibilities and their own rights.

I don't like to repeat myself, but I'll ask again: if states ratify the amendment (which they must), how is this an involuntary taking of their power?

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 29):
But the people of individual states can revise their state constitutions far more easily than the U.S. Constitution.

At least in Illinois, the succession process is dictated by a statute, not the constitution. After the Blagojevich scandal broke, there was talk of changing the statute.
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rfields5421
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:19 am



Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 4):
It's a fundamental violation of how the US Constitution works.

LOL - this proposal is a fundamental affirmation of the US Constitution - exactly as described in the Constitution. It is EXACTLY how the Constitution was intended to work and does work.

Though I do agree that it will die quickly, and should by some unfathomable vote get past the Congress, the states will never approve it.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 29):
It's not all that hard: Different states have different procedures for appointing a new Senator if a replacement is needed. Using a Constitutional amendment to mandate a single policy strips the people of individual states of their right to decide for themselves how a replacement should be chosen.

The name of the nation is the United States. If the states wish to be part of that United States, then some things which are focused on the national government should be consistent across all the states.

The method of selecting senators has nothing to do with States Rights, but with the integrity of the federal government.

Now I will agree that the current process maintains the 18th century concept that the people of the individual states are too stupid to select senators or their replacements directly. And the people have shown no interest in changing that policy.

I certainly do not see the recent mess as a reason/ justification for a change.

Like, does anyone think this is the first time a senate appointment has been sold/ offered for sale?
 
LH423
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:15 am



Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 24):
That argument ignores, I think, the fact that special elections frequently have terrible turnout. Is selection by the governor followed by a special election in which 40% of the electorate participates more democratic than a special election in which 10% of the electorate participates? I'm not so sure there's a good answer to that.

True, however the lack of a democratic will of a people to vote when given the opportunity doesn't take away from the democratic values of a free vote. If it did then the US would probably not exist anymore, the US having one of the lowest voter participation rates of industrialized nations.

Like Blackbird, I'll reserve judgement until I see the details however I do support the fact that my state is one of those 4 that have a special election to elect the new senator.

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dxing
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:32 am



Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 20):
How does one quantify that difference? A single Senator comprises 4 times as much of the body as a single representative, but what does that mean?

A Senator, unlike a Represenative has the power to ratify treaties, advise and consent on Supreme Court Justices, among other things. But your basic math is correct, one vote from a Senator is worth 4 from the House and that adds up quickly if you only have one Senator.

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 21):
How is it any more ripe for abuse than the current system?

Who stands a better chance of being caught taking graft, the Senator there for a couple of months or the one there for a couple of years?

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 21):
So the 14th Amendment was wrong too, then?

I have to ask, what in the world does the 14th amendment have to do with any of this?

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 21):
The people are the state, not the government.

And there you have it. The people are the State, not the federal government. The people of the State should have the right to decide how a Senator will appointed if the elected Senator resigns, dies, or is forced from office. They should not be bound by an amendment to the Constitution.
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:55 am



Quoting StealthZ (Reply 3):
Quoting DXing (Reply 1):
Yes, it's called trampling States rights

Why is it trampling states rights.

It is the individual states that have the rights to decide the method of filling vacancies in the Senate, or House of Representitives. Some states have in their state constitutions the Governor can appoint someone to complete the unfinished portion of a Senator's, or Representitive's seat. Other states automaticly call for a speical election, still others allow the Governor to make a temporary appointment, so the time can be taken to get a speical election and campaign going.

For the states, it is cheaper just to appoint someone to the vacancy, as elections are very expensive.

http://www.constitution.org/constit_.htm
Article. I.
Section. 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof [Modified by Amendment XVII], for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote

[Article. XVII.]
[Proposed 1912; Ratified 1913; Possibly Unconstitutional (See Article V, Clause 3 of the Constitution)]
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Article. V.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate [Possibly abrogated by Amendment XVII].
 
DfwRevolution
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:01 am



Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 31):
The name of the nation is the United States. If the states wish to be part of that United States, then some things which are focused on the national government should be consistent across all the states.

If you want to open that can of worms, replacing the occasional senator mid-term is going to be the least of your worries.

You do realize that even the election of the President is a matter decided at the state not federal level, right?
 
rfields5421
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:03 pm



Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 35):
You do realize that even the election of the President is a matter decided at the state not federal level, right?

Kind of. The details are done at the state level, but the framework is set by the constitution, and the detail are set by federal law.

When the US Congress passed federal laws defining when the electors must meet, how the states must certify the votes, how and to whom the ballots must be forwarded, that states must certify their popular votes, all of those would be considered violations of states rights by the arguements above.

If the majority of the states decide that the procedure for filling senate seat vacancies needs to be changed through a Constitutional Amendment - then that is valid and not a restriction of states rights.

Now, like the electoral college, I don't see this change getting past the states.

I really don't expect it to get past the Senate.

While I agree with Senator Feingold that the apparent, but unproven, behavior of the governor is disgusting. This instance does not in my opinion identify a systemic issue which deprives the people of the various states of representation.

As I said above, this certainly is not the first senate seat to be sold, or otherwise awarded to meet a personal or political agenda.

I suspect Mr Feingold has a very mistaken impression that people expect integrety and honesty to be the norm from their politicians.

I believe most people have a healthy skepticism of all elected or un-elected politicians placing their personal welfare and their family financial future ahead of any duty to the people.
 
Yellowstone
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:41 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 33):
I have to ask, what in the world does the 14th amendment have to do with any of this?

With the 14th Amendment, the federal government forced state governments to expand the democratic process. This amendment does the same. Admittedly, the scope and significance of the expansion under the 14th amendment was much greater. However, assuming you think the 14th amendment was a good move, you have to admit that the federal government has some authority to dictate to the states the proper functioning of the democratic process. So merely saying "states rights" doesn't win your argument; I'm interested to hear why this right in particular should be left to the states.

Quoting DXing (Reply 33):
Who stands a better chance of being caught taking graft, the Senator there for a couple of months or the one there for a couple of years?

The one who's there for a couple years. First of all, he has a lot more opportunity. Second, he is likely to have long-term goals to gain power, while the interim senator would likely just be a placeholder with no further political aspiration. Third, those who want to "buy a senator" would be more interested in corrupting someone who has the potential to be a long-term asset.
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Cubsrule
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:50 am



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 37):
With the 14th Amendment, the federal government forced state governments to expand the democratic process. This amendment does the same.

A couple of points:

1) (Yet again), how is a constitutional amendment a forcing of state action? The states have to ratify the thing!

2) How does either the privileges and immunities clause or the due process clause force states to "expand the democratic process?" They are seemingly rights-enhancing measures, not democracy-enhancing measures.

Section 2, obviously, is an expansion of democracy, but it too is rights/equality-based.
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seb146
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:18 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 18):
Because the amendment would be a Federal one thus eliminating a States right to choose which way to operate their system.

So, giving citizens of each state the right and privilige to a democratic process is bad? I think it is much better than the current system. I want a say on who represents me, even if that person is not elected. Just because I may have voted for the current governer does not mean I want him/her to choose who represents me for the next few years.
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DocLightning
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:28 pm

In general, I am opposed to Constitutional amendments unless those amendments either clarify AND expand the civil rights of the citizens or limit government corruption. So, for example, the most recent amendment (1993 I think) that prohibited Congress from voting itself a raise effective the same term is fine with me.

Otherwise, I think a law is a far better way to go. Since I don't think the Constitution mandates appointments, an amendment shouldn't be necessary.

And amending the Constitution due to a single scandal also doesn't sit right with me, either.

I agree with Feingold that we should stop this from happening again, but I think he's being a bit rash.
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allstarflyer
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:55 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 1):
Yes, it's called trampling States rights and since in order for the amendment to pass he needs 3/4's of the States to go along with it, it wil die right where it started, in the Senate.



Quoting StealthZ (Reply 3):
Why is it trampling states rights.

It's more like trampling the influence of the states. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the 17th amendment - I do like the idea of being able to vote for my Senators directly, but it undermines the role of the states in the electoral process. I'll put it this way - if the 17th amendment was still in effect, people would be forced to pay attention much more to their local/state politics because those state reps and senators would be choosing the U.S. Senators - by having the people choose directly, they pay attention less to their own state politics and more on the federal government itself, thus inducing a more federal government/centralized focus, which is not good. By spreading out the power, people have to pay closer attention closer to home, and likely would.

One might conclude that it would even give the representatives a more special focus, too - the people would know the only national-level legislators for whom they could directly vote would be their own representatives, thus giving the House greater prominence in the eyes of the people. That would likely be a good thing, since most of the focus nowadays is on the executive.

On top of all this, the Senators would likely be a higher caliber pick seeing as they'd be chosen among other elected individuals. Those elected individuals would want to choose responsibly seeing they'd have to face their constituents over their choice. They'd probably make a more informed choice, too, seeing as how we as voters don't always have the inside scoop on a person running for (any) office. And they'd probably be likely to choose someone who has a greater sense of what the people of that particular state would want, as opposed to nowadays when a person can simply list themselves as a resident of a particular state and then run for the Senate.

So, to apply what I've mentioned as best I can to the topic - as far as this proposal by Sen. Feingold -  thumbsdown 
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dxing
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:13 pm



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 37):
With the 14th Amendment, the federal government forced state governments to expand the democratic process.

Are you quite sure you mean this 14th amendment?

http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.amendmentxiv.html

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


If so please point out the portion that fits your statement that:

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 21):
Obviously, that's an extreme case, but the federal government has a well-justified history of forcing states to expand the democratic process

because I don't see it.

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 37):
I'm interested to hear why this right in particular should be left to the states.

Because the States are sovereign. The Founding Fathers wanted it that way. That is why the tenth amendment was added:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitut...ution.billofrights.html#amendmentx

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

To add Feingold's proposed amendment to the Consitution would further erode the States rights.

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 37):
The one who's there for a couple years.

Thank you for validating my opinion. Someone who is there for only a couple of months could run wild taking care of himself and stand little chance of being caught unless they were openly brazen about it.

Quoting Seb146 (Reply 39):
So, giving citizens of each state the right and privilige to a democratic process is bad?

They already have that right!!!!!!!!!  banghead  The people of Illinois, or any other State for that matter, have ways in which to change their laws and Constitution to change from appointment to speical election if they so choose. This amendment takes that right away from the people. What part of that don't you understand?????
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dl021
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:30 pm

I dislike the idea of amendments being opened up in general as it allows for other mischief from people with agendas that want to slip something in that has nothing to do with the original amendments ideas.

Amendments change our basis of government, and I'm loathe to do that without very very good reason.

As far as Senators goes I don't mind the elected representatives of the people appointing a temporary replacement who will serve until the next general election.
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usair320
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:50 pm

Although it may look good, It is a clear violation of state's rights. I think if the Illinois Legislature were smart they would adopt an amendment to the Illinois state constitution to allow for special elections by the people, but to do it on a national level is more Federal Intervention that is clearly not needed.
 
Blackbird
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:59 pm

USAir320

I think that would be the best solution (illinois legislature to adopt amendment to allow for special elections by the people)


Blackbird
 
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:38 pm



Quoting Usair320 (Reply 44):
Although it may look good, It is a clear violation of state's rights. I think if the Illinois Legislature were smart they would adopt an amendment to the Illinois state constitution to allow for special elections by the people, but to do it on a national level is more Federal Intervention that is clearly not needed.

Well said...it's an Illinois matter....
 
seb146
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:34 am



Quoting DXing (Reply 42):
They already have that right!!!!!!!!!

So, one person (the governer) chooses one person to be appointed to the Senate rather than every registered voter choosing? We do NOT have the right to choose who will represent us until (in most cases) the term is completed. This would give citizens of each state the right to choose who represents them. Again, I ask, what is wrong with every citizen having a say in government?

Quoting DXing (Reply 42):
The people of Illinois, or any other State for that matter, have ways in which to change their laws and Constitution to change from appointment to speical election if they so choose. This amendment takes that right away from the people.

Do you know how long and difficult of a process that is? It does not happen overnight. It takes years.
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dxing
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:12 am



Quoting Seb146 (Reply 47):
So, one person (the governer) chooses one person to be appointed to the Senate rather than every registered voter choosing?

As it stands now. That does not mean that the citizens of any State that does it that way cannot go about changing the way a replacement is picked. What part of that don't you understand??????  banghead 

Quoting Seb146 (Reply 47):
Again, I ask, what is wrong with every citizen having a say in government?

Nothing, but if the citizens are happy with the Governor picking the replacement what is wrong with that? This amendment would take that right away from them. What part of that don't you understand?

Quoting Seb146 (Reply 47):
Do you know how long and difficult of a process that is? It does not happen overnight. It takes years.

Do you? It could be as simple as getting enough signatures on a petition to force the issue onto the ballot. Why do you want to give up a right that is now the States and give it to the Federal Government??????  banghead 
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Cubsrule
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RE: Russ Feingold Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:08 am



Quoting Seb146 (Reply 47):
Do you know how long and difficult of a process that is? It does not happen overnight. It takes years.

Not in Illinois. Unless there is a change of governor, there's no way it would take longer than about 65 days. It doesn't take a constitutional amendment (at least in Illinois).
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