August 20, 2009

Re-Re-arranging Massachusetts' Succession Law

Monique Chartier

The senior senator from Massachusetts has written a letter urging the Mass state legislature to change the method by which a US senate seat would be filled in the event of a vacancy.

Change it ... back to the way it was the first time he urged them to change it five years ago. John Fund, writing for the Wall Street Journal. (h/t Howie Carr)

Until 2004, Massachusetts had a law allowing the governor to appoint a Senator to hold a vacant seat until the next regular election. In that year, faced with the possibility Senator John Kerry succeeding in his bid for the presidency, the Democratic legislature balked at the idea of an appointment being made to fill his seat by then-GOP Governor Mitt Romney. When the legislature hesitated to pass such a blatantly self-serving bill, Senator Kennedy made two direct appeals to the state senate's president to revive the stalled bill, including a phone call to his home over a weekend.

It worked. In 2004, the Democrat-controlled legislature

passed a law creating the special election process and taking away the governor's right to make a temporary appointment.
See, 'cause it's so important that the people and not the Governor fill a vacant senate seat.

... er, unless the Governor is a Democrat and we've got unpopular legislation pending in Congress. In that case, Senator Kennedy ...?

it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election.
Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Well, at least we should give Sen. Kennedy and his Dem. crew credit for delivering on Pres. Obama's promise of transparency . . .

. . . transparent hypocrisy, no.

Our friends over at RIF came out in favor of eliminating Gov. Carcieri's ability to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat here in RI . . . wonder what they think of Sen. Kennedy's letter?

(Sorry, I can't pose the question to them directly, but the present management there apparently don't appreciate challenging questions.)

Posted by: brassband at August 21, 2009 6:32 AM

not to mention the dozens,or hundreds
of folks who are banned from commenting
at Anchor Rising

Posted by: Brassband Jr at August 21, 2009 8:14 AM


Is that you?

Oops, no, it's before 9:00 am during summer vacation . . . couldn't possibly be him . . .

Posted by: brassband at August 21, 2009 8:27 AM

This is the height of hypocrisy for Kennedy. If he was truly concerned about anything but himself, he would have resigned his senate seat 5 months ago and they'd have a new one starting up now. He should resign immediately. They're not going to get anything to a vote before February with all the messes that this bill has caused. So quit now, follow the state law and get the new Senator in place for February. Plus, what's the big deal? A temporary senator isn't going to have the same power as Kennedy, and this is a democrat's bill anyway. What difference does it make if they have one more democrat? Filibuster proof? I don't know that all 60 dems would stick together on this issue to prevent it anyway.

At least do the right thing in your final days, resign the position and let the state go forward with your replacement according to current state law.

As an aside, I just have these visions of Ted Kennedy approaching the pearly gates and there's St. Peter with the long line and his book, and Ted gets to the front of the line, puffs out his chest and announces, "Hi, I'm Senator Ted Kennedy, ready to join my brothers. May I come in?" Then Mary Jo steps out from behind St. Peter, looking at him all googly eyed, utters a "Hi Ted, remember me?" St. Peter glances at her and her mini-skirt and gives a big thumbs down. Trap door opens. Heh.

Posted by: Patrick at August 21, 2009 9:30 AM

This move regarding Sen. Kennedy's seat tells me that the Dems in the Senate are seriously considering pushing their health care reform through the so-called "reconciliation" process (a simple majority rather than filibuster- proof 60 votes), and that they are worried that with only one Sen. from Mass. they risk not being able to get fifty "aye" votes (which would allow V.P. Biden to break a tie).

Posted by: brassband at August 21, 2009 10:41 AM

We shouldn't be surprised by vehicular manslaughter Ted's hypocrisy. This is the ecologist who opposes offshore wind farms that might obstruct his view. This is the champion of the poor who has spent his entire life living as a rich man off of his father's (often ill-gotten) fortune.

Same for his spawn "Am'Bien Rehabbed Again" Patrick - a "never worked an f'in day in his life" bumbler living as a rich man off of his grandfather's (often ill-gotten) fortune.

This is a win-win for Democrats. If TK's alive they'll wheel him in on a gurney and he'll vote and play on the imagery to push reluctant Democrat Senators to "not vote against Ted" in his last vote on his signature issue.

If he croaks they'll push the health care bill as "honoring" his memory and his "lifetime of battling for universal health care."

Recall the last time we got one of these tribute packages for a Mass pol: the "Big Dig" as a send-off for Tip O'Neill.

We all know how that worked out - billions in cost overruns, fraud and defective construction.

Who believes that government healthcare would be any different?

Posted by: Tom W at August 21, 2009 11:18 AM

I find it sad that the man, even as he confronts the end of his life, cannot let go of the power. Step back, after 47 years your job is done, and let the process that has worked for so long continue its course.

brassband, I'm surprised to hear you were banned. That blog has changed so dramatically in the last year it's not worth engaging in the discussion. But I always found your posts to be well presented and insightful. Man, it that Alex a weasel or what? Hope you contribute more regularly here at Anchor Rising.

Posted by: mikeinri at August 21, 2009 11:22 AM

This is as craven an act as Splash has pulled since Chappaquiddick.

These Democrats don't even pretend to represent their voters any more. All they care about is the Party.

Just as in 1984, our population is split into these classes:

Inner Party Members
Outer Party Members

The 17th Amendment was a terrible mistake.

Posted by: BobN at August 21, 2009 11:39 AM

Brass, your link goes to a blank page. Looks like they've banned evidence of banning.

Posted by: George at August 21, 2009 11:56 AM

I think what got RIF's owner "wee-wee-ed up" at me was when he posted a diary where the White House tried to deny Pres. Obama's preference for "single payer."

I commented with video from then-Sen. Obama's statement to a labor gathering in which he said he favored single-payer, but that it might take some years of transition to get there.

My comment disappeared and I was immediately banned.

Apparently, links to Pres. Obama's own words are, on that site at least, considered sufficiently offensive to warrant exile!

It's kind of interesting to see how the site has evolved over the past few months . . . when Obama was riding high as a candidate and in his first few months, some opposing views were tolerated a little better, I guess.

Now challenging the pro-Obama orthodoxy is dismissed as right-wing propaganda.

Hey, they own the site and they can ban whomever they choose. I'm willing to accept exile as the approved punishment for non-conformity (at least I'm not being asked to drink hemlock . . . that's somewhere in H.R. 3200 isn't it?)

The First Amendment protects us against the government's intrusion on our right to speak, but it also guarantees a right of free association, which includes the owners of RIF's right not to associate with whomever they choose to avoid.

Hopefully my banning will not have a "chilling effect" on other participants at RIF who try to put forth opposing views.

Posted by: brassband at August 21, 2009 12:25 PM

Brass, I banned myself from that site when I saw it beginning to decline after the Duckboy takeover. The webmaster with Napoleon complex pushed me over the edge. I don't even read the site so as to not help with their page view stats.

Posted by: Patrick at August 21, 2009 1:04 PM

A stopped clock is right twice a day, but Ted Kennedy may be right for the first time in his 47 or so years in the U.S. Senate. It took craven opportunism for Kennedy to come down on the side of logic and constitutional values, but, hey, fair play to him.

Yes, it is a bad idea for a Senate seat to go unfilled for 5 months while a special election is held. State legislatures should take advantage of Section 2 of the 17th Amendment and authorize the governor to appoint a temporary Senator to hold the seat until his replacement is elected. Massachusetts could still mandate that a special election to fill the remainder of the Senate term be held within 5 months of the vacancy, but having the governor name a temporary replacement would ensure that the state does not have to go without a second U.S. Senator for more than a few days.

And wouldn't it be rich if the Democrat legislature in MA changes the law so that the governor can fill vacancies, and the next vacancy occurs in 2011 when a Republican or an Independent is the governor of MA?

That being said, there is one positive aspect to the current MA law: Senator Vacant, serving for five months, would almost certainly compile the least offensive voting record of any U.S. Senator from MA since Sinclair Weeks.

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at August 21, 2009 6:55 PM

Brassband Jr:

I'd be surprised if I've banned more than a dozen people from commenting over the five years of AR's existence, which means that the number of pseudonyms that you've used since March is exponentially higher.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 21, 2009 9:19 PM

Here is a post on the subject from "Honest Partisan". See Honest Partisan for more from the blog site.

Awfully selective outrage

Matt Yglesias makes the case here that we shouldn't necessarily blame Obama for the difficulties in enacting health care reform legislation, pointing out in part that the uniquely American Rube Goldberg method of legislation makes this task really difficult. First, there is the inordinately large number of veto points: three committees on the House, the floor of the House, two committees on the Senate, the floor of the Senate, a conference commiitee, post-conference committees votes on the floor of the House and the Senate, and of course the president. Second, there's the Senate. Not only does the Constitution give inordinate veto power to residents of small states, effectively requiring a supermajority, but the Senate rules heap on yet another supermajority requirement, the filibuster.

Into this legislative hell is the perversity that Ted Kennedy, lifelong champion of health care reform, might die before a cloture vote, enabling the Republican minority to stymie the cause while Massachusetts holds a special election with no interim replacement. Last week, Kennedy sent the Massachusetts legislature a letter urging them to change the law to allow Democratic governor Deval Patrick to appoint a replacement pending a special election.

Some conservatives have snarked that this somehow makes Massachusetts lawless or something, which I take as a sign of how much we take our asinine arbitrocracy for granted, particularly when it benefits our side at the moment. That Ted Kennedy's illness could thwart the democratic will of the people as expressed in the last election isn't the scandal, it's the remedy for it!

Your Pal,

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 25, 2009 12:26 PM
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