All right, I will admit it. I'm a little old fashioned. I wear a suit and tie to church on Sunday. I do not like for young people to call me by my first name when they meet me for the first time. I still call people older than me "Sir" or Ma'am". I even extend that courtesy to those in positions of authority. I always stand when the flag passes by.
And I still believe in the US Constitution. But it seems as though our government has forgotten all about it.
Now I couldn't quote the whole thing to you or anything like that but if a law or article is still on the books, it should be followed. Period.
The constitution has been ignored by previous administrations. Nixon and the outgoing Bush come to mind. Those administrations aside, it seems as though we are in the process of doing it now, even as I type.
Check out the second paragraph of the 17th amendment, ratified in 1913:
- 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. (emphasis mine)
Now, all we have heard about lately when it comes to Senate appointments has been Gov. Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris. Now according to the pundits, we hear that Burris' appointment is tainted because of the governor's trouble and vote of impeachment this week. Democrats in Washington are upset because Blagojevich made the appointment after offering the seat to the highest bidder. Now, Blagojevich and Burris both say that this appointment had nothing to do with a deal and that may be true. Initially, democrat leaders said that they would seat Burris if he agreed to be a seat warmer until the next election in 2010.
Well, the Dems almost got it right. If Burris is seated, according to the Constitution, it is only until a special election can be held. And that is true for the US Senate seats in New York, Delaware and Colorado.
But we never hear about that provision in the 17th amendment of the Constitution. Or maybe we can say that it is being hidden so Governors can wield their captured power and make an appointment. Are all governors making such an appointment guilty of making an illegal permanent appointment?
Now some will say that the Governor can appoint until the next election is scheduled but that stretches the intention of the amendment. The Governor is authorized to make only a temporary appointment until an election is scheduled by the state legislature.
But silly me, that's only what the Constitution says. And who pays attention to that. A friend of mine and I were discussing the appointment issues / scandals and realized that most media, most legislators, most citizens just don't know or don't care what the law of land happens to be.
The current practice goes back to New York and the death of then-Senator Robert F. Kennedy in June of 1968. Gov. Nelson Rockefeller said that there was insufficient time to hold a proper election that year or the next and that his appointment was good until the scheduled election in November of 1970, 2 ½ years out. A federal three judge panel decided (2 to 1) that he was correct. The Supreme Court refused to hear and rule on the case so for the last 40 years, the practice has been appointment until the next scheduled election or the one after that.
The longer we practice the illegal method, the more it will become accepted practice of the land. God help us if this same attitude becomes precedent on other parts of that precious document.
Oh, it is precedent to over rule the Constitution when it is convenient to do so in other areas?