Senator’s recall sought for backing healthcare plan

Wednesday May 26 2010

TRENTON, New Jersey, Wednesday

New Jersey voters should be allowed to decide whether to seek removal of Democratic US Senator Robert Menendez from office because of his support for national healthcare reform and other measures, a recall group argued in court yesterday.

The recall group, which emerged from a local branch of the conservative Tea Party movement, appeared before the New Jersey state Supreme Court to argue that the state constitution allows for senators to be removed from office if they violate that constitution.

“The New Jersey constitution implies that all political power resides in the people,” said Mr Andrew Schlafly, attorney for the Committee to Recall Robert Menendez from the Office of US Senator. “The people have the fundamental say, and legislators are their spokesmen.”

The initiative to recall Mr Menendez stemmed from his support for health and immigration reform and for cap-and-trade legislation to curb industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, recall supporters said.

Supporters of the recall initiative claim Mr Menendez’s votes increased federal deficits. The Tea Party movement, which argues for smaller government and lower taxes, opposed the healthcare reform signed into law by President Barack Obama.

In court, the New Jersey group cited a 1787 letter by George Washington, who later became president, saying if elected representatives acted against the wishes of the voters, “their servants can, and undoubtedly will, be recalled.”

Mr Menendez’ attorney Mark Elias argued that the framers of the US Constitution debated the idea of recall but omitted it in order to protect sitting senators from short-term political pressures. (Reuters)