Thursday, August 20, 2009


In 2004, the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts Legislature changed that state's rules for filling vacancies in the U.S. Senate. They abolished gubernatorial appointments, and provided instead for a quick special election.

This year, that legislative body is considering restoring a governor's power to make an interim appointment to the Senate.

Giving the politicians the benefit of the doubt, as I always do, I'm sure that the switch has nothing to do with the facts that there was a Republican governor in 2004 and the Democratic junior senator was running for president, while there is now a Democratic governor, and the Democratic senior senator is terminally ill.

Of course, we know their true motives. Bay State Democrats have painted themselves into a corner. But it's one they can easily find their way out of, given that their party still dominates the Legislature, and that the federal constitution allows state legislatures the leeway to establish procedures to fill Senate vacancies.

I assume they will reinstate the concept of gubernatorial appointment, and they have the blessing of the senator in question, Ted Kennedy, in doing so. But it's interesting to note that that change flies in the face of a proposal by another leading Democratic senator, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, to amend the federal constitution to prohibit states from giving their governors the power to appoint senators.

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