Recall of Legislators and the Removal of Members of Congress from Office (US)06/06/2013 23:56
As to removal by recall, the 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 in Congress exists under the Constitution.
Although the Supreme Court has not needed to directly address the subject of recall of Members of Congress, other Supreme Court decisions, as well as the weight of other judicial and administrative decisions, rulings, and opinions, indicate that (1) the right to remove a Member of Congress before the expiration of his or her constitutionally established term of office is one which resides exclusively in each house of Congress as expressly delegated in the expulsion clause of the United States Constitution, and (2) the length and number of the terms of office for federal officials, established and agreed upon by the states in the Constitution creating that federal government, may not be unilaterally changed by an individual state, such as through the enactment of a recall provision or a term limitation for a United States Senator or Representative.
Under Supreme Court constitutional interpretation, since individual states never had the original sovereign authority to unilaterally change the terms and conditions of service of federal officials agreed to and established in the Constitution, such a power could not be “reserved” under the Tenth Amendment. Even the dissenters in the Supreme Court decision on the Tenth Amendment and term limits, who would have found a “reserved” authority in the states regarding “qualifications” of Members of Congress, conceded that the exclusive authority to remove a sitting Member is delegated to each house in the expulsion clause of the Constitution, and that with respect to “a power of recall ... the Framers denied to the States [such power] when they specified the terms of Members of Congress.”
So, the recall process would be purely symbolic, unless we follow the recall rules of state legislators and put it to the test. At the very least, the recall process would attract attention to the nefarious dealings in Congress and show overt dissent from the American people.
Recall of Legislators and the Removal of Members of Congress from Office: http://1.usa.gov/
Recall of State Officials: http://www.ncsl.org/