With all the recent talk of Constitutional amendments for this and that, here's a good example of what amendments are for.

The House on Thursday took up legislation that would require the holding of special elections within 45 days of the speaker confirming that a terrorist attack or other catastrophic event had left at least 100 seats vacant in the 435-seat body. ...

The Senate already allows governors to appoint senators when a vacancy occurs prior to an election. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has proposed a constitutional change giving states the flexibility to come up with their own methods of quickly filling seats in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on Congress. ...

Simpson and Cutler, in a recent letter, said not one of their members went into the task with the desire to amend the Constitution. "Nevertheless, the evidence we considered led us to conclude that, for the sake of the Constitution itself, the security of our nation and the preservation of the Congress, a constitutional amendment is necessary to provide continuity in the face of a catastrophic attack."

I'd tend to agree that legislation alone isn't enough, since it's not at all clear that Congress has the power to authorize special elections under any circumstances. There is no Constitutional provision for filling a vacant House seat before the next general election; it probably wasn't considered necessary 200 years ago, because House elections come frequently and it wasn't conceivable that a significant fraction of chamber could be eliminated at one stroke.



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