Friday, August 10, 2007

The Hill: "Recall effort in vain"

The Hill is the insider newspaper of Washington, DC. It gets all the DC gossip and inside news, and has a special blog on its website for members of Congress.

Yesterday, it featured an article on the effort to recall Congressman Tim Walberg.
Activists in Michigan are trying to recall Rep. Tim Walberg (R) for his support of the Iraq war, but the effort is destined to be a symbolic one with no authority to actually remove Walberg from office, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) attorney.
No member of Congress has ever been recalled, and the U.S. Constitution does not allow for it, said CRS attorney Jack Maskell, who in 2003 drafted a report on recalling members of Congress.

According to Maskell’s report, the framers of the Constitution considered a recall provision during the drafting stage in 1787 but decided against it. In 1807, a Senate Committee found that the Constitution “has not authorized the constituent body to recall in any case its representative.”

The Supreme Court has never ruled directly on recalling members of Congress, but its casework makes it clear that states may not change the terms of office for federal officials, the report says.

In Burton v. United States, the court ruled that the only way the Constitution allows for removal of a member of Congress is by term expiration, by death, or by expulsion, which requires a two-thirds majority of the respective chamber.

U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton holds that states do not have broad authority to institute term limits or change qualifications or length of terms for members of Congress.

I covered a lot of these arguments in a post here. There's certainly a case against being able to recall a member of Congress. However, with the conservative outlook of the current Supreme Court, a case brought to them today might (ironically for Walberg) result in a ruling supporting the Tenth Amendment and states' rights.

With the difficult task of getting over 50,000 signatures, then the difficult task of winning a recall election, and then the inevitable court challenges, there's probably a very low chance that this recall effort will actually result in Walberg leaving Congress. But to the political junkies like me, watching the process-- and getting a definitive answer on the recall question from the Supreme Court-- would be kind of fun.

And you have to wonder how frightened Walberg might be of a recall election if he's trying to fight it before the petitions have even gone out. Is this a battle he thinks he might lose?

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Why would anyone take legal advice from a Congressional lawyer on whether a Congressman can be recalled?

Every ounce of that institution is dedicated to preserving that institution. If a Congressional lawyer said anything but "recall is impossible," he would be fired.

The fact is the Supreme Court is the venue to decide this matter. It has never been tested. The State of Michigan and the County of Lenawee rightly decided to allow the recall process. This is one of the greatest state's rights issues of our time and we have the state behind us.

Two things:

ASAP, someone should get the attorney general on record as to what he would do. Will he defend his citizens's rights and argue that recall of a Congressman is the perogative of Michigan's citizens?? AG Cox should come down on the side of Mr. Carr if he is true to his conservative principles.

And, we must get those signatures. 50,000 is a huge number, but not impossible. I am sad to see it's supporters frame it as a referendum on the war on Islamic fanaticism, but the emphasis should be placed on Walberg's fiscal irresponsiblity. If there are any conservatives out there who are upset at the federal budget, this is a prime opportunity to make your voices heard.

Recall Walberg for his votes to allocate funds without ponying up the cash. He is a deficit spender and that is unhealthy for our future.
perhaps the fella is senile and he forgot what happened last time he tried this.
The recall is still great even if it doesn't work. My reason: It gets his terrible set of beliefs out there for everyone to see.
The only downside I can see to him loosing is that he'd go back to the Church and poison young minds into his way of thinking.
The only way to force this issue is to get enough people to sign the petitions.

First, it will look horrible for Walberg to have been recalled, whether it gets to the ballot or not. Second, if the petitions are submitted, it will force the courts to decide the matter. Walberg will be on the side of the federal government and the anti-progressive position that the federal governemt does not allow its citizens to remove Congressman from office for any reason. Third, it will force Walberg to use up some of that Club for Growth money to defend himself from his voters...
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