No there isn’t one yet, but Russ Feingold wants to change that:
U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, issued the following statement today on plans to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the Senate by state governors and require special elections in the event of a Senate seat vacancy.
“The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end. In 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution gave the citizens of this country the power to finally elect their senators. They should have the same power in the case of unexpected mid term vacancies, so that the Senate is as responsive as possible to the will of the people. I plan to introduce a constitutional amendment this week to require special elections when a Senate seat is vacant, as the Constitution mandates for the House, and as my own state of Wisconsin already requires by statute. As the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I will hold a hearing on this important topic soon.”
This is a great start to repairing our already highly damaged electoral system. I never could stomach the thought of the Governor having the say of the people. What if you have a highly unpopular governor of a state, who is on his last year of his term and in the state’s now minority party. A Senator from the other party falls ill and is unable to serve, so that Governor from the minority party can now appoint someone from his own party. Doesn’t seem very Democratic.
At the very least the decision should be made by the state delegation, but Feingold’s idea is much better – keep the decision in the hands of the people.