August 26, 2009
Ted Kennedy - Ripped 2.0
I'll say one other amusing thing I just heard on the radio; Politico and others have also reported on this (it's why Sen. Kennedy was trying so desperately to get a state law passed in his final week of life).
Back in 2004, JFK was running for the presidency against George W. Bush; Sen. John Forbes Kerry (D-MA, 95%) is of course from Massachusetts, the junior, now senior senator... but the governor in 2004 was Republican Mitt Romney.
The Democrats in MA were terrified that, should Kerry win the election and become president, he would be replaced in the Senate by the governor; they were convinced that Romney would appoint a fellow GOPper.
So they changed Massachusetts law to take that power away from the governor; instead, the state must now hold a special election to replace a senator who dies or resigns; the election must be held between 145 and 160 days following the vacancy. (The Democratic supermajority in the Massachusetts legislature forced the law through over Romney's veto, I believe.)
Flash forward to 2009: Ted Kennedy dies, but today the governor of Massachusetts is a Democrat, Deval Patrick. By the very law that Democrats rammed through, Patrick cannot simply appoint a party-line Democrat to succeed Kennedy! Instead, the seat must remain open, and the Democratic majority in the Senate reduced by one, until the state holds that special election.
There is little chance that anyone but a hard-core liberal Democrat will win the seat... but that cannot happen for a minimum of 145 days. August 25th (the date the seat became vacant) plus 145 days means that at a minimum, the Democrats will have only 59 seats in the Senate until January 18th, 2010 -- the day after the earliest date for the election (since the winner would have to be declared and then sworn in the next day). And that's assuming no failed candidate brings a challenge to the electoral results -- quite possible, given a crowded field -- which could add days, weeks, even months to the process.
I don't know the mechanics of the election, but if no candidate receives 50% of the vote, I wonder if the law might require a runoff between the two top vote-getters? Unknown (to me) at this time.
But in any event, Democrats might not have a "filibuster-proof majority" for the rest of the year and halfway through January... the very time they hoped to do a jam-down of ObamaCare, tax increases, a bill to cripple energy production, and many other elements of Obamunism. (Depending on what the state legislature does -- see below.)
The invisible hand of Fate appears to have put its invisible thumb on the scales yesterday...
(Mind, the Massachusetts legislature returns to session after Laborious Day; it's possible they can rush a bill through undoing the previous bill they rushed through. But even that will take some time and will raise the partisan-hypocrisy quotient enough to make even Massachusetters -- Massachusettians -- Masschurians squirm.)
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 26, 2009, at the time of 5:47 PM
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The following hissed in response by: Geoman
I think they call themselves Bay Staters. Statians. Whatever.
Laws are for the little people....
The following hissed in response by: Jay Tea
Regardless of what they want to call themselves, they'll be "Massholes" unto the end of days.
And the Massachusetts legislature HAS NO SHAME. I could tell you tales of their shamelessness...
They just might pass this law. They hold over 85% of both Houses.
The above hissed in response by: Jay Tea at August 26, 2009 7:12 PM
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
Of course, some enterprising lawyer might file a challenge to the new law, arguing that the vacancy must be filled according to the law in place at the time the vacancy occurred, rather than according to some new, post-mortem piece of legislation.
It may or may not ultimately prevail, but it's a serious enough argument that I think a judge would have to hear it, and he might take several weeks or even a month or more to issue a final decision.
This would put us close enough to the election timeframe that it might be tough to get an appellate court to rush a judgment against the challenge.
In any event, it's a reasonable judicial point: If you allow the state to change the law willy nilly, after the vacancy occurs and depending on the party affiliation of the governor, then you may as well just have two laws of succession: One when the governor is a Democrat, the other when the governor is a Republican.
I think there is a very reasonable case to be made here. I hope somebody is already writing the briefs.
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at August 26, 2009 9:12 PM
The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel
Mary Jo Kopechne had no comment on the matter.
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