The United States of America has a document called the Constitution. It is meant to be one of the key governing documents of our country. We can forgive it for hiding for its own safety over the last eight years, but rumor has it that it is planning on making a triumphant return next January.
Last week, I did MSNBC and talked about Caroline Kennedy and the open Senate seat. As I was sitting, waiting to go on, I was thinking how inappropriate it was that a Governor could just appoint a person to a seat which, when one has the chance to be an incumbent, the seat in a blue state is essentially a lifelong appointment.
I said that and little else as Susan Molinari, well, talked a lot.
After the segment, I couldn't help thinking, I wonder if the process of simply appointing a Senator is constitutional, and I looked it up. Senators were originally selected by the members of the House, but a Constitutional Amendment, the 17th, changed that and put the election of the members of the Senate clearly and plainly in the hands of the people, where it should be.
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 each 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.
The word that sticks in my mind is 'temporary' appointment.
To me, this means a matter of, in the case of the unfortunate death of a US Senator, a temporary appointment is made while an election is held.
Temporary. However, as Governors in New York, Delaware, Colorado and Illinois have faced their decision on whom to appoint to open seats, 'temporary' is not the word that comes to mind.
An incumbent Senate seat, when held for two years, especially in a very red or very blue state is a far thing from a temporary appointment. In the case of a Democratic seat in New York State, it is virtually a life-long appointment.
Not only is that wrong, against the spirit of democracy, it becomes perilously close to being, in my non-legal opinion, unconstitutional. The Governor of any given state is supposed to call an election, not wait for the next election cycle, and again temporary.
I am sure that there are legal opinions to the contrary and someone will tell me that 'two years' is really temporary, but this comes down to a basic moral issue.
We live in a democracy.
In a democracy, we elect our officials.
And, if in the process, I can get spared looking at Blago's hair.