Today’s events in
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such 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.
Acting pursuant to this authority, the Illinois legislature has provided that “[w]hen a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from this state, the Governor shall make temporary appointment to fill such vacancy until the next election of representatives in Congress, at which time such vacancy shall be filled by election, and the senator so elected shall take office as soon thereafter as he shall receive his certificate of election.”
Thus, when Barack Obama resigned his Senate seat in November (having decided to pursue other opportunities), the Governor of Illinois was empowered to make a temporary appointment until the general election of 2010. Unfortunately, it appears that Governor Blagojevich may have decided to sell the vacant seat to the highest bidder, something frowned upon by Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and notorious goody two-shoes.
On the other hand, if Blagojevich were to make a temporary appointment before a new law is passed, the appointment would be valid, and it seems unlikely that anything in the new law could undo the appointment. State legislatures do not have the authority to recall or remove
The more difficult question is whether the
Finally, it should be noted that Blagojevich retains a significant amount of power with regard to any legislative attempt to amend the law. Although the Seventeenth Amendment gives the legislature power with regard to filling vacancies, it is established that this power does not displace the role that may be played by the state executive in enacting legislation. Thus, any new law must be presented to the Governor, as required by the Illinois Constitution, who may consider it for up to 60 days before deciding whether or not to veto it. In short, unless Blagojevich decides to heed calls for his resignation, this could go on for awhile.