The leader of the Sussex County Tea Party, who is running an effort to recall Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), today scathingly answered critics who called the recall effort “drastic” and “illegal”.
RoseAnn Salanitri, in an interview with this Examiner, gave her answer to this editorial by the Gloucester County Times, which said that Menendez was doing nothing more nor less than “his job,” that he would be up for re-election anyway in November of 2012, and that then-Secretary of State Nina Wells, who had rejected the recall effort out-of-hand on January 11, “had the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court case law on her side.”
Salanitri answered that the entire reason for the recall effort was that Menendez was not doing his job. Furthermore, her criticism had nothing whatever to do with the latest embarrassing disclosure of Menendez’ letter to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke asking for a special favor for an Elizabeth bank whose board members were among his biggest contributors (and had been taking out $2 million in possibly shaky loans before the bank failed). (The Times mentioned these events, saying that they were “discounting” them as grounds for recall, evidently failing to grasp that under the Uniform Recall Election Law, any citizens may recall an officeholder on any grounds, or no grounds.)
Robert Menendez (official photo)
Senator Menendez clearly does not understand the Constitution, which he has sworn to uphold. The Constitution does not force people to buy goods or services, and has a list of enumerated powers, which Menendez has consistently ignored.
Regarding Wells’ determination, which the recall committee has appealed, Salanitri said this:
Nina Wells, regardless of whether she had the Constitution in front of her, had no authority to rule on questions of Constitutional law. Our petition was not submitted to her for a judgment as to its legal merit, but strictly for an administrative determination that its form and content were clerically legal.
Richard T. Luzzi, co-counsel for the recall
committee (Independence Caucus)
The Times editorial mentioned “a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens” that said that the recall statute “couldn’t be applied to federal officeholders.” What opinion that might be was far from clear. The case of US Term Limits v. Thornton said that no State may “alter or add to the qualifications” for Congressional office–but said nothing materially about interrupting the term of office of a Member of Congress. Though no State has yet recalled a Senator, the Constitution is in fact silent on the issue, and no provision in it says that a Senator is anything other than an agent for the State that sends him. Furthermore, the impeachment clause, and its distinction from the clause governing congressional discipline, indicates that a Member of Congress is not and cannot with justice be said to be a federal officer.
This article is part of the Robert Menendez series.
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