Sen. Kennedy's Letter: Preparations for Possible Vacancy

  • News
  • Thread starter russ_watters
  • Start date
In summary: Democrats in Mass: The Democratic-controlled legislature changed the state's succesion law in 2004, denying then-governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, the ability to fill a Senate vacancy as Democratic Sen. John Kerry competed for the White House. The problem with this is that it denies the people of Massachusetts the ability to choose their own senator. This is a clear example of the Democrats playing games with the democratic process.
  • #1
russ_watters
Mentor
23,303
10,565
WASHINGTON — An ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy is urging Massachusetts' political leaders to change state law to assure his swift replacement if he has to surrender his seat...

Norman Ornstein, a veteran Congress-watcher with the American Enterprise Institute, said that Kennedy's letter is a sign that the canny lawmaker is continuing to count votes — and is worried his party might come up short on controversial measures such as the president's proposals for overhauling health care and addressing climate change.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-08-20-kennedy-senate-replacement_N.htm

If we assume for the sake of argument that he's not stepping down because he cares about his constituents and considers some of the laws up for vote right now to be very important, isn't it worse to die in the middle of his term and leave his seat unfilled - or to not be able to take part in the shaping of the laws? Isn't he acknowledging a high probability that he will not be able to fulfill the duties he was elected to do (in reality, he hasn't been, for months)? This strikes me as Brett Farve type logic where he says what he's doing is important to him, but the reality is that that's a selfish thing and by not stepping down he's harming his constituency.

The absence of media commentary about this issue is noteworthy to me, given the large treatment John McCain's age got in the last election. The difference, of course, is that McCain's age issue was all just speculation and gambling, whereas Kennedy is already neglecting his duties.

Ironically, part of the reason this is a problem is because of a subversion of the democratic process by the Democrats in Mass:
The Democratic-controlled legislature changed the state's succesion law in 2004, denying then-governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, the ability to fill a Senate vacancy as Democratic Sen. John Kerry competed for the White House.
I can't believe I didn't hear about that before. That sort of subversion of the democratic process is the type of thing we hear about and decry in Russia and Venezuela. I can't believe that was legal (or maybe it wasn't and its just no one chose to challenge it).
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
When the entire population of the State is only half of that of metropolitan Los Angeles, it barely amounts to more than dirty city politics. Yeah, they need to get their act together, but Kennedy had nothing to do with laws passed previously by the State legislature, and it doesn't sound like the Dems are exactly leaping at the request. If they don't reverse the law, can you still complain?

Murray and DeLeo, the legislature's top Democrats, issued a joint statement saying they hoped Kennedy would "continue to be a voice for the people of Massachusetts as long as he is able."
 
  • #3
russ_watters said:
The difference, of course, is that McCain's age issue was all just speculation and gambling, whereas Kennedy is already neglecting his duties.
Considering what his agenda has been during his career, I wouldn't say he's neglecting his duties at all. He is honoring his duty to not violate the constitution for the first time in his life, simply by not showing up.
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking said:
When the entire population of the State is only half of that of metropolitan Los Angeles, it barely amounts to more than dirty city politics.
Well in practice, sure, but he's a Senator and a powerful one.
...but Kennedy had nothing to do with laws passed previously by the State legislature...
I know, and that's what's ironic. They "solved" one problem and they and he have created another. Had the law not been changed, his replacement could get into office sooner.
...and it doesn't sound like the Dems are exactly leaping at the request. If they don't reverse the law, can you still complain?
I think you may be reading my post backwards. The new law is dirty politics. If they reverse it, that could be seen as better insofar as it would get the seat filled quicker. If you step back and think theoretically, both have pros and cons, but the part that is "dirty" is changing a law for the immediate benefit of your party or a single person. So it is dirty either way.

And actually, I didn't start this thread to talk about Mass politics, I started it to question Kennedy's judgement! I started writing the post before reading the whole article!
 
  • #5
I read that too - it's unbelievable how many political games are played.

This is just one more case for term limits.
 
  • #6
russ_watters said:
I can't believe that was legal (or maybe it wasn't and its just no one chose to challenge it).

Welcome to democracy. 51% of the people can tell the other 49% what to do.

It seems to me that there is a simple solution to this within Massachusetts law - Kennedy resigns immediately, effective six months from now, which allows a special election to be held before he steps down. There are two problems with that - an election just might have a winner in the wrong party, and Kennedy's ego probably would not permit him to ever be an ex-senator.
 
  • #7
WhoWee said:
This is just one more case for term limits.
The case for term limits is so well made that one more example has no effect. When you allow the people to vote for whomever they please, they will elect the wrong person 50% of the time.
 
  • #8
To test the limits of their power - maybe Barney Frank should be given a special life long appointment to both the House and Senate - a case could be made that it would save money in the long term?
 
  • #9
Anything but free elections?
 
  • #10
jimmysnyder said:
Anything but free elections?

What if the people make the "wrong" decision - nope, too risky.
 
  • #11
Vanadium 50 said:
Welcome to democracy. 51% of the people can tell the other 49% what to do.
One of the primary purposes of the (a) constitution is to prevent a "tyranny of the majority" by limiting their ability to circumvent the electoral process. Ie, the 51% can't vote to eliminate Presidential term limits because that's written into the constitution (in the form of an amendment).
It seems to me that there is a simple solution to this within Massachusetts law - Kennedy resigns immediately, effective six months from now, which allows a special election to be held before he steps down.
Yes, that's what I was getting at with starting the thread. The responsible thing for him to do would be to do something like that.
There are two problems with that - an election just might have a winner in the wrong party, and Kennedy's ego probably would not permit him to ever be an ex-senator.
And yes, those are the two reasons why he and the democrats currently in power wouldn't want it.
 

Related to Sen. Kennedy's Letter: Preparations for Possible Vacancy

1. What prompted Sen. Kennedy to write this letter?

Sen. Kennedy wrote this letter in response to the growing concerns and speculations about the potential vacancy in the Supreme Court due to the age and health of some of the justices.

2. What preparations is Sen. Kennedy referring to in this letter?

Sen. Kennedy is referring to the preparations that need to be made in the event of a vacancy in the Supreme Court, such as identifying potential nominees and conducting background checks.

3. Is Sen. Kennedy suggesting that there will definitely be a vacancy in the Supreme Court?

No, Sen. Kennedy is simply being proactive and acknowledging the possibility of a vacancy in the Supreme Court. He is not making any predictions or assumptions about the future.

4. Does Sen. Kennedy have any influence in the selection process for a new Supreme Court justice?

As a senator, Sen. Kennedy does have some influence in the confirmation process for a new Supreme Court justice. He can use his voice and vote to support or oppose a nominee, but ultimately it is the president's decision to nominate someone and the Senate's decision to confirm them.

5. How common is it for there to be a vacancy in the Supreme Court?

Vacancies in the Supreme Court are not uncommon, as justices can retire or pass away during their term. On average, there have been about two vacancies in the Supreme Court per president since 1900.

Similar threads

Replies
65
Views
7K
  • General Discussion
Replies
10
Views
12K
  • General Discussion
Replies
28
Views
4K
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • General Discussion
2
Replies
36
Views
5K
Replies
45
Views
6K
Replies
19
Views
4K
  • General Discussion
3
Replies
82
Views
18K
  • General Discussion
Replies
3
Views
3K
Replies
21
Views
4K
Back
Top