Topic:
RECALLS;
Location:
RECALL;
Scope:
Court Cases;

OLR Research Report


OLR RESEARCH REPORT

December 24, 1998

 

98-R-1540

RECALL OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

 
 

By: Mary M. Janicki, Principal Analyst

You want to know whether voters in a state can recall a member of the United States Congress.

No, they cannot. Any attempt by a state to recall a member of Congress is prohibited by the Federal Constitution. A vacancy in the office of U.S. senator or representative can be created only by the incumbent's death or resignation, the expiration of his term, or some direct action of the body (the Senate or the House of Representatives) which is empowered to expel members (Burton v. U.S. 202 US 344, at 369). There is no constitutional authority to hold a special election that would be required to fill a seat in the event a member was recalled. Article I, section 4 of the Federal Constitution relating to the time for holding a regular election and Article XVII of the Amendments on holding a special election only when a vacancy exists combine to preclude an election to replace a member of Congress who had been recalled. Federal constitutional provisions supersede any state recall procedures for these offices.

The details of the argument are included in the attached Brief on the Constitutionality of the Recall of United States Senators and Representatives In Congress, prepared by Hon. Walter F. George, Chairman of the Committee on Privileges and Elections, United States Senate, on May 18, 1935.

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