Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holy Senatorial Cow

Wow. I am truly dumbfounded. The U.S. Senate may wind up deciding who wins our senate seat. A summary of what the Senate is allowed to do is here.

Basically, the Senate is the final arbiter of who gets to join their club. Normally, this is simply accepting the results of the state's election. But it doesn't have to be. Smith said the Senate last weighed in on a serious election contest in 1974. So, despite all the hanky-panky here with "objected" ballots, or who's counting what ... Coleman & Franken can get their other club members to weigh in. Considering that Sen. Reid is already opining on our election, it seems to be a much more interesting Constitutional issue than Florida.

According to Smith the Constitution allows the Senate to be the final arbiter of its membership. Smith said the Senate does so by determining the qualifications of each member. On most occasions, Smith said the Senate simply accepts a state's election certificate, but it has diverted course a few times.

"There is a motion under Senate rules and precedents that allows any Senator to make a motion to refer the credentials to a committee, presumably the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over election matters, in order to delay action on it," explained Smith.

In 1974: The contest involved a dispute between two New Hampshire candidates. After several recounts, the Senate moved to seat the Democrat. The motion was brushed back several times by Republicans who filibustered the issue. After months of wrangling, the Senate declared the seat vacant and ordered another election, which the Democrat won. Wow.

Sure, the senate probably won't get involved. But, wow ... how badly do they want it? and are they willing to set enough prescedent to screw themselves with the next election?

1 comment:

ccyager said...

Until Chambliss won in Georgia there would have been the possibility of the Democrats getting the magic 60, but now that's not possible even if Franken is declared the winner. Although maybe Franken should be quaking in his shoes about his qualifications -- Coleman has already served 6 years and would be more qualified if the Senate decided to get involved. Wouldn't that be interesting...?