Q: Can a Governor Appoint Someone to Fill a U.S. House of Representatives Vacancy?

A: No.

U.S. House of Representative vacancies are always filled an election (either a regular election or a special election). See Article II Section 2 of the United States Constitution:

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

Governors can temporarily fill vacancies in the Senate (per the 17th Amendment):

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

State legislatures may empower their governor to make temporary appointments to Senate vacancies, but not House vacancies.

The House is unique in that it is the only part of our federal government where you MUST be elected by the people. That’s why it’s called “the people’s house”.

We’ve had appointed (not elected) Senators, Vice-Presidents, and even 1 President (*), but we’ve never had an appointed Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.

(*) Gerald Ford was appointed to the Vice-Presidency under the provisions of the 25th amendment:

2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

And then Gerald Ford rose to the Presidency upon Nixon’s resignation (again under the provisions of the 25th amendment):

1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

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4 Responses to Q: Can a Governor Appoint Someone to Fill a U.S. House of Representatives Vacancy?

  1. Aaron says:

    Pretty much standard stuff, it’s where democracy fits into the US Federal Government. Democracy is only one half of one branch of it, while the other half of the legislature (the Senate) is republic.

    The Executive branch is designed as, and supposed to be a democratic federation, but is executed as–and believed to be by many–a democracy. This has caused problems such as in 2000 when Gore won the popular vote (by a razor-thin margin), but did not get enough electoral college votes to win. The leadership of the respective states choose a leader to preside over the federation, the president is not decided by popular vote. Further, it is actually up to the leadership of each state to come up with a way to decide how they will cast their electoral votes. That method does NOT have to be through popular election.

    Really, the President is not supposed to be the leader of the people of the US, (s)he is supposed to be the leader of the STATES of the US.

    The Judiciary, as a check/balance against the other two branches of the Federal government is (to the best of my knowledge) a relatively new concept. I cannot recall any other governments in history that have had a judicial panel with the authority to nullify/reverse/override legislation or executive action. If there are other examples, I would like to know more.

  2. Aaron,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Pretty much standard stuff

    I know, but I wrote this post because a lot of people don’t know the standard stuff. On other blogs, I’ve seen several people ask if a state Governor can appoint a replacement when one of the state’s U.S. Representatives leaves office unexpectedly.

    it’s where democracy fits into the US Federal Government. Democracy is only one half of one branch of it

    Correct. One could say that Democracy is 1/6 of our Constitutional Republic, because the democratically-elected and democratically-operated (the majority rules and the minority has no real power) House of Representatives is only 1/2 of 1 of the three branches… i.e. 1/2 * 1/3 = 1/6.

    , while the other half of the legislature (the Senate) is republic.

    I’d say that our whole government (not just the other half of the Legislative branch) is a Constitutional Republic (rule of law).

    The Executive branch is designed as, and supposed to be a democratic federation, but is executed as–and believed to be by many–a democracy. This has caused problems such as in 2000 when Gore won the popular vote (by a razor-thin margin), but did not get enough electoral college votes to win. The leadership of the respective states choose a leader to preside over the federation, the president is not decided by popular vote. Further, it is actually up to the leadership of each state to come up with a way to decide how they will cast their electoral votes. That method does NOT have to be through popular election.

    Correct. It’s very interesting to look at how the Presidential Electors were chosen for our first-ever Presidential Election:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1788%E2%80%931789#Electoral_college_selection

    http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/presidential/electoral.html

    Really, the President is not supposed to be the leader of the people of the US, (s)he is supposed to be the leader of the STATES of the US.

    I’d say it’s both. But that concept that the President and Senators should be chosen by a popular vote of the people is a concept that came with the “Progresssive” movement.

    The Judiciary, as a check/balance against the other two branches of the Federal government is (to the best of my knowledge) a relatively new concept. I cannot recall any other governments in history that have had a judicial panel with the authority to nullify/reverse/override legislation or executive action. If there are other examples, I would like to know more.

    The Founders looked to the Bible for their precedent and revelation. The three branches were derived from the following Bible verse:

    For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

    Isaiah 33:22 (King James Version)

    Judicial, Legislative, Executive. But the founders chose to call the head of the executive branch a President, rather than a King (“no King but Jesus”).

  3. skeeter says:

    The Targum renders Isaiah 33:22 “the Lord is our Judge, who brought us by his power out of Egypt; the Lord is our teacher, who gave us the doctrine of the law from Sinai; the Lord is our King, he will redeem us, and take vengeance of judgment for us on the army of Gog;”

    ” Really, the President is not supposed to be the leader of the people of the US, (s)he is supposed to be the leader of the STATES of the US.”

    “I’d say it’s both. But that concept that the President and Senators should be chosen by a popular vote of the people is a concept that came with the “Progresssive” movement.”

    1 Samuel 8:4-7 (New King James Version)
    “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
    But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”
    What they were desirous of was to have a king appearing in pomp and splendour, wearing a crown of gold, clothed in royal apparel, with a sceptre in his hand, dwelling in a stately palace, keeping a splendid court, and attended with a grand retinue, as the rest of the nations about them had had for a long time. (JG Bible Commentry). I might also add, there are those who also say the Constitution is OLD and should be ammended or done away with completely.
    God allowed the “Popular Vote of the People” for a mortal man to reign over them as King. Not as approving of what they said, but permitting and allowing what they asked, as a punishment of them for their disloyalty and ingratitude.
    God, the very first King over Israel, in His infinite wisdom knew this would happen, that eventually the Children of Israel would demand a mortal man to rule over them in His stead. More than forty years prior to Samuel, God told Moses to write in a book:
    “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me, “you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.” Deuteronomy 17:14-15.

    When the Founding Fathers wrote the “Natural Born Citizen clause” as a prerequisite for any man or woman who would run for the office of the president, they did not pull that phrase “Natural Born Citizen” out of the thin rarified air of Hope and Hype at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500.
    However I would not expect a Muslim or a socialist or a communist, hence Islamic/socialist/communist political party to be scripturally literate when it comes to the Judeo/Christian Bible and the United States of America Constitution. It is terribily difficult to believe in something they know nothing of.
    Note in the above phrase, “I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me”. God was not forcing a mortal King over the people “me”. God was allowing that to happen as explained. Note too, It is God’s option, who will serve as king, the leader. Sometimes God tears down and sometimes He builds up. I do not know which it is at this time. What I do know is we have “the blind leading the blind” and obviously America is about to fall into the ditch :).
    Note: the Founding Fathers completely ignored royalty in their consideration of those who would govern the young nation of America. But why wouldn’t they? Argueably the greatest King ever over all Israel, other than God Himself, was a young shepherd by the name of David.
    There is so much to this it is nigh to impossibile to comprehend. Now, what I would like to know is, did the Founding Fathers realize just exactly what they were dealing with?

  4. Ms. Fernandez says:

    I just came from that sick site…run by the Minister from The Atalas Church a pompous person of whom I have known a few in the 50 plus years I’ve been around and around African Americans from Harlem to Tuskegee.

    I give up- but not before I had a chance to post this response:

    How to get publicity for yourself; Attach ludicrous charges, libelous writings, slander in public , lie ,write mendacious statements, say anything that is obscene, of ill will , laugh at the incredible stupidity of your followers, and know that to rule over men and destroy them is a consequence of their own ignorance.

    When the CIA, or other intelligence agencies find a stooge, they pay him off in a varied amount of ways. Protection, deals business and legal and of course money.

    This dude has to laugh at all of you every single day he looks at this bank account. I know I would, if I had to create contention under the guile and disguise of being a Christian.

    I am so laughing here..so are the ‘white’ Americans-as you know blacks have always seemed like buffoons to them and this is right up their alley.

    After President Barack Obama’s second term the reality of the greed of this man will come to light. By the way–Mitt Romney’s dad was born in Mexico, and was a governor of his state. Little tid bits of knowledge.

    President Obama hasn’t been around on the planet long enough to fulfill all of these ridiculously worded antagonisms from a mental state of confusion, self hatred, self importance and incredible lack of historical knowledge.

    Now black folks have a term for their own when they act this way..can you guess.? Incredible..I cannot even get mad–this is like saying that Beyonce has good hair, and all those wigs she wears are her testament to being so talented. Same marketing principle applies here.

    It has been my observation that some A.A. ‘s just have an inability to employ critical thinking skills. i have long observed even friends of mine struggle to “speak” English–they appear to understand-but have problems with metaphor.

    Of course others like Condoleeza Rice are quite brilliant.

    A perfect example of one is Farrakhan. He sounds like he is articulating something–mostly that Ebonics style of call and response that A.A.’s preachers like to invoke–but at the end of the day, despite copious reading, violin playing classicist abilities, being well traveled and rich he still has a problem, with the brain..makes me wonder who was Jensen using as his subjects to underscore low intelligence in Blacks.

    Boy have I ever–been around these pompous men–they are obstinate and opinionated but that is to hide what they know is a weak and under-developed intellectual force or farce!

    Please do not write to tell me about your uncle Jerome who has a Ph.D., I am well acquainted with Black Americans who are brilliant.

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