Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Can a U.S. Senator Be Recalled?

Many Americans are very concerned, even upset, about the way a runaway Congress is spending our nation into bankruptcy. 18 of our 50 states have laws that give the people the right to bounce state officials out of office by a system called Recall. Nine of those states authorize the recall of any elected official, including U.S. Senators. Some people now want to use the Recall procedure against United States Senators who voted to spend trillions of dollars of money that will put our children and grandchildren forever into incredible debt. The U.S. Constitution neither explicitly authorizes, nor explicitly prohibits, a recall of a Member of Congress. A New Jersey appeals court ruled in March that a Tea Party group has the right to attempt to recall a U.S. Senator. In a case called Committee to Recall Robert Menendez v. the New Jersey Secretary of State, the court ruled that this Committee can go forward with its plan to circulate petitions for the recall of U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. The court's decision was unanimous. The court didn't find it necessary at this time to decide the constitutional question of whether individual states have a right to recall a federal lawmaker.

The Recall provision in the New Jersey Constitution authorizes removing “any elected official” who has served for at least one year. New Jersey citizens adopted this Recall provision in 1993 by a vote of more than three to one.

This lawsuit began last September when the Democratic Secretary of State of New Jersey refused to approve a petition to recall the Democratic Senator Menendez. The Committee to Recall Robert Menendez then sued to compel the Secretary of State to do her job. The appellate court ordered the Secretary of State to accept the petition. In order to place the Recall on the ballot, 1.3 million signatures on the petitions will be needed.

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