On January 19, 2010, Massachusetts may find itself at the forefront of a political revolution. On that date, voters will go to the polls to select the permanent occupant of the senate seat held by Edward Kennedy for more than 40 years. What makes that a revolutionary moment is the fact that Martha Coakley, the Democrat candidate, could well lose the election, which would indeed be a stunning upset, given Massachusetts’ political climate. In an unsettling turn of events, however, there is a suggestion that, if Republican Scott Brown manages to pull of such an upset, the Senate may refuse to seat him, fearing–rightly–that he would break the Democrats’ super-majority and kill the health care reform bill.
Senator Harry Reid warned Massachusetts voters that they should not elect Brown, and made clear the tack he will attempt should such an unfortunate event occur.
“It would be unconscionable for the seat held for 40 years by the inestimable Senator Kennedy to be allowed to pass to an enemy of everything he stood for. Massachusetts is a progressive state, always has been, always will be. Scott Brown is the antithesis of a progressive. He has no business running in this state. His election would be an insult to Kennedy’s memory …
“Each House of Congress is Constitutionally empowered to be the judge of the qualifications for all of its members. Brown is too conservative to be qualified to represent a state like Massachusetts. Democrats hold the majority in the Senate. We could vote not to seat him.”
Is Congress so desperate that it will refuse to seat, if elected, the man chosen by the people of Massachusetts to represent them?
Would such a refusal withstand scrutiny, and would it survive the court challenges that would be sure to follow?