Michael Moore is threatening the state of Connecticut with a boycott if they don’t recall Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) — which would put Connecticut’s economy in a very tight spot, considering they couldn’t recall him even if they wanted to.
Moore posted this on Twitter: “People of Connecticut: What have u done 2 this country? We hold u responsible. Start recall of Lieberman 2day or we’ll boycott your state.”
I can appreciate the appeal of the idea, but to reiterate a point from yesterday, this is not an option. Connecticut has no recall mechanism, and even if it did, members of Congress can’t be legally recalled anyway.
Now, after I posted this yesterday, I received a little pushback from some readers who questioned whether the matter has really been settled. Reader D.H. emailed, “The question is not clearly addressed by the Constitution,” and what the courts might say is unpredictable.
For the record, the Congressional Research Service published the authoritative report* on this issue six years ago, reviewing the law, the history, the states’ limited authority over federal office’s qualifications, and the relevant court rulings. The CRS’s conclusion was clear: once elected, a member serves out his or her term unless in the case of a) resignation; b) death; or c) expulsion.
The 13-page report reads in part, “[T]he United States Constitution does not provide for nor authorize the recall of United States officers such as Senators, Representatives, or the President or Vice President, and thus no Member of Congress has ever been recalled in the history of the United States. The recall of Members was considered during the time of the drafting of the federal Constitution in 1787, but no such provisions were included in the final version sent to the States for ratification, and the specific drafting and ratifying debates indicate an express understanding of the Framers and ratifiers that no right or power to recall a Senator or Representative from the United States Congress exists under the Constitution.”
Voters in Connecticut elected Lieberman. They’ll have another chance in 2012. There can be no recall.
* Interesting side note: the CRS report on this was published, originally, on Joe Lieberman’s Senate website. Seriously.