Lawmakers Sour on Governors Filling Senate Vacancies

Post-Blago, some push special elections
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2009 12:23 PM CDT
Roland Burris entered the Senate under a cloud after he was appointed by indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill Barack Obama's seat; some lawmakers would rather see voters make such decisions.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Soured by the taint of the Rod Blagojevich scandal on a US Senate seat, members of congressional judiciary subcommittees considered a Constitutional amendment that would fill interim vacancies in the body by election, rather than by gubernatorial appointment, the Washington Post reports. The selection by governors is “not only undemocratic but prone to abuse,” argued Rep. James Sensenbrenner.

An executive of advocacy group Common Cause told lawmakers the system “has proven to be broken.” But critics noted that requiring elections for interim openings would raise the financial bar for holding office even higher. Others pointed out that only one of a total of 184 appointments had had problems. “Should we let one bad governor in Illinois make us change everything?”  Rep. Louie Gohmert asked.