Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No take-backsies

Teabaggers want to recall Democratic U.S. Senators to force them from office. This is patently unconstitutional. The 17th Amendment (which enacted direct popular election of Senators) says in part:

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.
Not "six years, as long as the loonies don't want to change the rules in mid-term". Not "six years ... or whatever, dude". Not "six years for conservatives but less for anyone with even a whiff of stinky liberalism".

Six years.

Article I, section 5 of the Constitution adds:
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, ....

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Nope, still no provision for a bunch of ignoramuses throwing a Senator out early.

Even though a state appeals court in New Jersey has pretended that there's some legal doubt on this issue about the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution over the New Jersey Constitution, there is no such doubt.

This effort is not really about recalling Robert Menendez. It's about exacting the price from Menendez of suffering incessant attacks. At the end, he'll win, but meanwhile his attention and efforts will be diverted away from governing, away from living better, away from preparing to run for re-election. He'll get tired, his contributors will get tired at the additional burden of contributing to his legal defense fund, and being a legislator will seem less and less like a good idea.

This was exactly the strategy of attack agains Bill Clinton when he was President.

Oh, I said there was no doubt that recalling a Senator is unconstitutional, but there is in fact one doubt. The U.S. Supreme Court has proven its willingness to intervene in politics on the side of Republicans (if you're Rip Van Winkle, Bush v. Gore). There's no guarantee that this court would have any more conscience than that court did in 2000.

Then, it could be us liberals carrying torches and pitchforks, as we should have nine years ago.

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