Rich Galen
To the disappointment of some, but the relief of many, Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday at a raucous press conference complete with, according to the New York Times, a "small group of hecklers hollered vulgar questions at him and called him a 'pervert' while puzzled elderly residents looked on."

We had been told that Weiner left for a rehabilitation facility last Sunday, but either it was a three-day, a drive-through, or an on-line program because he was back in New York City yesterday to make his announcement.

I said shortly after this whole creepy episode broke that, if we knew all there was to know, I would have recommended Weiner see if he could ride out the storm.

There was more and he couldn't.

There were texts to a seventeen-year-old girl which, based upon what we know now, did not include suggestive material but more unsettling - much more unsettling - were the pictures which came to light of Weiner taking photos of himself in a mirror in the Members' gym doing a Michael Jackson (if you know what I mean and I think you do).

So, the good people of New York's 9th Congressional district will be without a representative for a while. Unlike vacancies for the U.S. Senate which are filled either by appointment or election as an individual state sees fit, a vacancy in a U.S. House seat is filled according to the dictates of the U.S. Constitution.

Article I, Section 2 reads: When vacancies happen in the Representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.

That is, a vacancy in the House can only be filled by a special election, not an appointment.

Why the difference?

Prior to April 1913 U.S. Senators were not elected by popular vote. They were chosen in accordance with Article I, Section 3: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

The original language also provided for filling a vacancy in the U.S. Senate: If Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

The 17th Amendment changed "chosen by the legislature thereof" to "elected by the people thereof" thus providing for the popular election of U.S. Senators.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at