What Will Happen To Sen. Stevens’ Seat

November 6, 2008

As you know (being informed readers of this site), Sen. Stevens in the span of a month has both been convicted and reelected. The Senate Republicans are not allowing him back in. So what happens? Prof. Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog has the answer:

There’s a bit of a dispute over which rules apply. The old rules (see here) provided for the governor to fill a vacancy and then to call a special election afterwards, if the term would expire in more than 30 months. A controversy over the last Alaskan governor appointing his daughter to a vacant Senate seat led Alaska voters to pass an initiative changing the law. Under the new law, the governor still may appoint a temporary person to the seat, who sits only until a special election is called in 60-90 days after the vacancy occurs. Because Senator Stevens’ term would expire in more than 30 months, there’s not much difference between these old and new laws, except as to the timing of the special election.

There’s a constitutional question under the 17th Amendment whether [a change by voter initiative] to the means for filling Senate vacancies are constitutional. Vik Amar thinks it is. I’m not so sure (I address a similar, but not identical, issue in this paper).

So, either way, the governor will have the power to fill a vacancy at least for the short time 


  1. So we’re watching a news report about the re-election of the recently convicted Sen. Stevens of Alaska, and the reporter intones that even if Stevens takes his seat, he probably won’t be able to serve, as the Senate may banish him because “the Senate doesn’t want felons sitting among them.”

    To which my lovely wife responded: “When did they put in that rule?”

  2. it’s a strange situation

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