Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Senator Stevens might be able to serve, even in jail

According to Constitutional scholar Sandy Levinson, the Senate may not actually be able to expell Stevens (not legally, anyway), and Stevens thus might be able to serve as our Senator, even from the Gray Bar Hotel:
Let's begin with this question: Could a state require that a candidate for the Senate not be a convicted felon? One might believe that the answer would be "of course," but I take it that the meaning of the Term Limits v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995), is that states cannot add to the bare qualifications set out by the Constitution itself, which are limited to "hav[ing] attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Ciizen of the United States, and who shall..., when elected, be an Inhabitant of the State in which he shall be chosen."
His full argument is on Balkinization, and rather interesting. He asks, "If a "sovereign"... state can't add to the list of qualifications, why in the world can Congress?" He also has either a keen satiric wit, or more faith in the electorate than I do:
If the people of Alaska want to be represented by a felon, then why not? To be sure, if he is sentenced to jail, there might be some additional problems, but then the good folks of Alaska might have considered that when casting their vote for Sen. Stevens.
Read the commentary, too: lots of good discussion on the issue.

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