Thursday, January 29, 2009

The New Senator from New York

Assign your students the challenge of identifying the constitutional provision for filling a vacant Senate seat.

he Governor of New York, David Paterson, appointed Democratic U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill New York's vacant Senate seat. Gillibrand, from a largely rural congressional district in upstate New York, will replace Hillary Clinton as the junior Senator from New York. Some Democrats have said that her support for gun-owners' rights puts her on the right wing of the Democratic party. Gillibrand has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, which gave her a 100% rating. Gillibrand has described her congressional voting record as "one of the most conservative in the state." Senator Gillibrand said recently, “As I represented the needs and priorities of the 20th congressional district of New York, I will represent the many diverse views and voices of the entire state as your senator.”

The 17th amendment, which supersedes Article I section 2 Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution, transfers the selection of Senator from each state's legislature to popular election by the people of each state. It also provides a provision enabling a state's governor, if so authorized by their state's legislature, to appoint a Senator in the event of a Senate vacancy until either a special or regular election to elect a new Senator is held.

Students can search the Constitution for the process of appointing a Senator at the Text of the Constitution page. Students can also find more information about Senator Gillibrand, track her voting record, and find the committees she serves on at the Citizen's Help Desk.

The Citizen's Help Desk is the "one stop shop" for civic engagement. With this comprehensive, user friendly resource, students can stay informed and get involved with their government in a few easy clicks.

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