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Mass. House approves Sen. Kennedy succession bill

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Real World, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    Hey, we got great museums, the cape, and really swell foliage in the fall. :rolleyes:


    Successor bill advances in House

    Dems, GOP battle over controversial measure
    B
    by Hillary Chabot
    Friday, September 18, 2009 - Updated 11h ago
    + Recent Articles + Email


    A controversial bill allowing Gov. Deval Patrick to name a temporary U.S. senator cleared its first major hurdle in the House last night after bitter debate and legislative hijinks - but the measure is not expected to become law until next week.

    “I want a second voice in the U.S. Senate as quickly as possible, and we seem to be getting there,” said Rep. Michael Moran (D-Boston), who helped craft the legislation as co-chairman of the election laws committee.

    The House gave initial approval to the bill by a lopsided 97-58 vote, but under threat of a Republican lawsuit, Democratic lawmakers stripped the legislation of a key measure that would require the governor to appoint someone from the same party as the senator who vacated the seat.



    Successor bill advances in House - BostonHerald.com
  2. STFarmy

    STFarmy Rookie

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    That's weird, because I know they tried to block it when Romney was in office... I wonder what's changed since then?
  3. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    Um, Romney.
  4. STFarmy

    STFarmy Rookie

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    Well, yeah. Sarcasm.
  5. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    Doh. Use Magenta next time so I know. I thought your being from NH might have made you unaware of the specifics. I guess it's common knowledge all around at this point.
  6. STFarmy

    STFarmy Rookie

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    Will do. I pay pretty close attention to MA politics, mostly to laugh. Although lately I have nothing to laugh about, not with Carol Shea-Porter as my rep...
  7. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    As quickly as your state may be moving into the abyss, it has a long, long way to go before it reaches our depths.
  8. Fogbuster

    Fogbuster Rookie

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    The Left-libbies migrated into NH from MA the way they did to Vermont from NY (Bernie "Castro" Sanders). The world is tres messed up right now. But it's gonna change.


    Stay tuned ....... (cue wistah :p )

    //
  9. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    And why should they not have done this? Last time I checked the Party in power is granted this privalige for a reason...

    A Dem is going to be elected regardless, this just expedites the process so that we don't have a vacant seat for that long.
  10. STFarmy

    STFarmy Rookie

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    I actually agree, if parties were reversed the pubbies would have done the same thing. I just always laugh when they argue against something vehemently when it doesn't benefit them then change their tune when it does. It's the nature of politics.
  11. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    No where is anyone saying that republicans wouldn't do the same if power were reveresed, as most think they probably would. The fact that they would, does nothing to justify the citizens of a state, being stripped of their right to elect their representation. That the dems/pubs can do something like this, doesn't make their actions acceptable. Furthermore, that a dem is going to be elected anyway, which we all generally agree will be the case, doesn't make the appointed person a choice of the people. The appointed individual will simply be a puppet of the feds, and capitol hill. The hypocracy of democrats here, who only a few years ago changed the rules in arguing for citizen selection, is a prime example of why this state sucks so bad, and why politics in general (namely one party rule of any kind) blows. This reinforces my belief in term limits for all levels of gubmit.
  12. kali3

    kali3 Rookie

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    It just shows what a bunch of hypocrites they are. They never should have changed the law back in 2004. They did it then just to play politics and they are doing it now for the same reason.

    Typical BS and is why everyone hates the people who run Mass so much.
  13. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    They don't have that right, because the Dems have the legal authority to do it. Massachusetts has vested this power in a Democratic body, the fact that you don't like it is completely irrelevant. If the voters of Massachusetts want to take that ability away, they are fully capable of doing so, but as of right now the only ones complaining are sour Republicans that are pissed they weren't able to sneak through their guy last time around.

    As long as they are in power, they can change the laws back and forth as they please. Of course, I'd prefer more honesty when making the arguments for doing it but there is absolutely nothing wrong with Dems saying flatly, "we are changing the law because we don't want the Republican Governor to appoint a Republican" followed by "we are changing it back because this governor will appoint a Democrat in a faster manner than it would take for a special election to do so."

    There is NOTHING hypocritical about that, and they are well within their power to do it.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  14. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    And so what? Why should they never have changed it? They don't want a Republican apopointed and they have the majority needed to stop that from happening. Sounds pretty democratic to me.
  15. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    I don't think Republicans are pissed about not being able to appoint someone last time around, they couldn't do so both because of the law but more importantly because the Republican candidate for President won and sent the Junior Senator from MA back to his seat!!

    You are correct that they hold the authority, it just reflects poorly on our state government the way this has been handled. Same thing with the redistricting in Texas under DeLay, nothing unconstitutional about it, but it reeked nonetheless.
  16. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    Just a thought experiment, and somewhat unrelated, but let's say the MA supreme court was loaded with right wing justices that struck down the change on a flimsy legal argument, what would we say then (and yes this is a silly scenario as there is no clear legal justification to overturn here, but just wondering)?
  17. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    I'm not really sure what the second sentence means.

    This is different though. Democrats aren't abusing their authority in order to rig elections, a Democrat would be elected 100% of the time if there was an election held in MA. They are solely doing this to expedite the process, not to ensure that they stay in power by subverting the will of the people.
  18. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    You alluded to to it yourself; you'd have to look at the legal argument being made before commenting on it. Obviously if it was "flimsy" and only made in support of a political agenda then it would be wrong, because it would be directly aimed at subverting democracy.
  19. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    That's BS Wildo. Last week the people had the right to vote in a successor, and next week they won't. The fact that the losers in gubmit can change laws, doesn't mean that right's aren't being taken away. Basically what you're saying, is that as citizens of this state, we have no rights that politicians don't give us. That's BS IMO.
  20. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    They are changing state law to fit their political need, in this case making sure there are 2 D votes from MA for health insurance reform. Neither case was an abuse of authority by your reasoning since neither case was the action unconstitutional. I stand by it as an apples to apples comparison, unethical behavior to serve political interests.

    I also would disagree that a D will be elected 100% of the time. The right R candidate can always be elected. Independents in the state outnumber both R's and D's combined, and the chances of a promising R candidate being selected are even greater in a short campaign. Appointing someone to fill the slot will give them a leg up in the election to follow, or ensure that someone is seated with the understanding that they won't run and instead shift support to the candidate of choice.
  21. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    Actually that's exactly what it means. Again, Democratic voters have vested this authority in the legislature. The only ones who are upset about it are Republicans who aren't going to be elected anyway. Not a single Democrat I know gives a sh!t because they are willing to sacrifice preference between Dem candidates for expediency.

    If you think the fact that they have the power to do this is wrong, then your more than welcome to vote in people that will change it.

    Republicans just simply don't want the seat to be filled right away, because that would give the Dem majority the voter-mandated boost it deserves instead of letting it remain unfilled.

    Basically, I never said anything like this.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  22. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    You are right, it was just something rattling around in my head as I thought about parallels between this situation and ones in which either a judicial branch should have stepped in and didn't, or in which they should have stayed on the sidelines and didn't. Not a good avenue of discussion, but maybe I can improve it with more thought.
  23. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    I'm always up for talking about that stuff. :D
  24. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    This has nothing to do with pub voters, or dem voters. Like Stokes said, independents out number both, and all of us are citizens of this state. This has everything to do with the people selecting their representation. Having the legal authority to do something is not what I'm talking about here. My point is that the people of the state are being whizzed on by hypocrite politicians, which is ok by you I guess.

    It's nice to see that the people of Massachusetts will be spoken for, by a representative, err puppet, of the federal government. Hey, we should all be happy cuz the politicians have the authority to do it. :rolleyes:

    Mass. Gov says Obama discussed Kennedy replacement

    09/18/2009 10:56:57 AM
    By GLEN JOHNSON AP Political Writer

    Gov. Deval Patrick said Friday that President Barack Obama had personally talked to him about changing the Senate succession law in Massachusetts, and White House aides were pushing for him to gain the power to temporarily replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy amid the administration's health care push.

    A month after a White House spokesman labeled the issue a state matter, Patrick said he and Obama spoke about changing the law as they both attended Kennedy's funeral in Boston last month. He also said White House aides have been in contact frequently ever since and pushing for the change so they can regain their filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.

    "He and his whole team have been very clear about that," Patrick told reporters after holding a Cabinet meeting near his Berkshire Mountains vacation home.
  25. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    OK let's try this one then, what if the legal challenge is made on the basis that the law would be ex post facto? This is more generally applied to criminal proceedings but can be applied to civil matters as well. It is prohibited in the US Constitution (with the Supreme court having since made the criminal/civil distinction), but I'm not sure what the state constitution says about it. I think using this as a legal basis though we could envision a scenario where the MA supreme court strikes down the change based on the fact that it is being made to rectify a situation that has already happened (death of the Senator) and should therefore be subject to the law as it stood at the time of death, as opposed to one that may happen in the future.

    So there would be at least a possible justification for legal challenge and overturn of the change. The whole thing that got me started on this was remembering your (correct) comments on tyranny of the majority in the gay marriage debate and how you views of this situation seemed to me a little conflicted with what I thought they would be. Not saying you were wrong in either case, in fact you were probably right, but your posts in this thread struck me as somewhat unlike you. That is not supposed to be an insult, just saying that you see the value in the law constraining the actions of those in power rather than those in power changing the law to justify their actions.
  26. Stokes

    Stokes Rookie

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    Maybe the biggest lesson I can draw from this is that I think it is best for people to ALWAYS elect their representatives and do away with special appointments. From Blago to MA to Christ appointing his buddy to keep the seat warm for him, these things don't seem to be a good idea.

    Also can I suggest Deval appoints himself and gets his ass out of the corner office?
  27. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    Not to obfuscate, but I don't think this question is answerable without looking at the statutes and precedence set in both other states (persuasive), and Massachusetts (binding). So without being thoroughly versed on the evolution of vacancy appointments I can't answer fully. That being said, ex post facto really deals more with preventing the application of laws to individuals after an act that occurred during a time when the law as written did not exist so as to not unjustly burden an individual. I'm not entirely sure if a legal argument could be made that said X candidate incurred Y costs given the reasonable assumption that the election would take place given the statute at the time. But ignoring the fact that the simple argument would be something along the lines of "the law at the time allowed for the legislature to change the procedure, so the election was clearly foreseeable," that would still be a matter of an individual recovering damages rather than grounds to overturn the entire statute. But again, my very loose understanding of vacancy appointments is that legally it's been settled and this situation has arisen numerous times before.

    I understand what you are saying, but beneath the surfaceit's two different matters. When I was talking about tyranny of the majority I meant the justifiable restrictions placed on democracy to protect individuals and groups of individuals from oppression of the democratically dominant majority. If this was a case where Democrats were trying to ban Christians from voting or something (assuming it wasn't unconstitutional) then I'd be totally against the Dems for unfairly imposing their will on a minority group. That's what the Supreme Court is for and it's why I don't believe that the gay marriage question or any other civil rights question should ever be "left up to the people to decide."

    If there's a general argument to be had about whether any vacancy appointments should be allowed at all then I'm all for having that argument and to be honest I'm not entirely sure where I stand on that. But while this boils down to whether it's undemocratic, as Real World contends, I don't see the hypocrisy or abnormality of what the Democrats have done in changing the law back and forth. The entire reason for having that flexibility in the first place is to provide more efficiency. I can't think of any reason why any vacancy appointment would be free from partisanship, that seems to be the entire point of them.

    So basically what I am saying is that either we should allow vacancy appointments in total or not, but trying to call out the other Party for using them in the way they were designed to be used seems silly. And if we are OK with vacancy appointments, I can't think of a single argument that could be made that it was more democratic to let a Republican Governor fill a Democrat's seat in a Democratic state than to change the law.

    The problem with this situation, and what fuels the right's rhetoric here, is the misunderstanding that the laws governing vacancy appointments are meant to be a comprehensive prescription for every situation, since that's what most people think of when they think of laws. In this case, the laws are written specifically so that the legislature has the power to act in whatever way it seems fit at the time to preserve the democratic will of the people. In both cases, one by stopping the Republican Governor from appointing a Republican to fill a Dem's seat in a Dem state, and the other by granting the Dem Governor the ability to fill the seat simply as a function of efficiency, I think that democracy prevails far more than the alternative.

    The power to fill a seat was never given to the Governor so that he could appoint a candidate from a different Party than both the former occupant and the majority of the voting public. The intent of the law was to maintain the will of the people while not having to have a time consuming election that would hinder their right to be represented. That's exactly why the legislature has the ability to do what they did and I see nothing wrong with the way they have gone about it, nor do I think it is in anyway hypocritical since they aren't prescribing any ethical outlook or comprehensive guidelines.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  28. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    And you may be totally right about that, I'm actually inclined to agree with you. The problem is whether Mass citizens benefit more from being directly able to elect a representative while having to wait longer with the office unoccupied or whether they benefit more from quickly filling the seat and being represented for more of the time before the next regular election (2012). In this case I think that because it's such a Democratic state it's probably better to fill the seat quickly with a Dem the Governor chooses than have to wait however long it would take to elect a possibly different Dem and then start all over in 2012 anyway.

    I think the perfect test for this problem is whether the appointment is being made because of the possibility that the other Party might get elected and I don't think that's the case here.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  29. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    So your argument is really just an argument against all vacancy appointments entirely, and not solely to do with this case specifically? So then I can assume that you think it more Democratic to have an election for someone filling a Democrat's seat (that will almost assuredly be a Democrat anyway) who will occupy it for about 1 year, than to have 2 years representation from a Dem the Governor chooses? I'm not sure where I stand on that generally, but in Massachusetts think it's a huge waste of time and resources to go through the former only to reach a similar outcome, and that's why the State Constitution is flexible regarding this to begin with.

    As far as Deval Patrick talking to Obama about the appointment, I can't think of a reason why a Democratic state, that elected a Democratic Senator, a Democratic governor and a Democratic President would be opposed to the governor talking to the President about who is best suited to work with him. I don't think you'll find too many in the majority in Massachusetts that agree with you either.
  30. alvinnf

    alvinnf Rookie

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    Of course that's the reason why? Their action is pretty telling of how they actually feel about being re-elected!

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