Friday, August 31, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: John Warner retires, gets the date wrong

Senator John Warner (R–VA) announced around 3pm (Eastern) that he will not seek a sixth term in the Senate next November. Warner recently advocated beginning a reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of 2007. Warner's history includes a stint as Secretary of the Navy and six years of marriage to Elizabeth Taylor. He is a rare pro-choice Republican, and has supported embryonic stem cell reesearch. He opposed Robert Bork's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, and voted against convicting President Clinton of perjury in the impeachment trial. He was one of the "Gang of 14" Senators who reached a compromise regarding judicial nominations, in order to stop the talk of the "nuclear option" of eliminating filibusters on those confirmation votes. He has spoken out against the Bush Administration's erosion of the rules against torture, because the weakening of those prohibitions will hurt U.S. troops in the future. He publicly disagreed with the recent statement by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that homosexuality is "immoral."

Call me nitpicky, but, in an odd bit of irony, he got his own retirement date wrong.

Warner made the announcement in Richmond, Virginia, this afternoon, saying:

My work and service to Virginia as a Senator — and I repeat, my work and service to Virginia as a Senator — will conclude upon the 6th of January, 2009, when I finish, as the Constitution of the United States, upon the first Tuesday of a new Congress, my career of then 30 years in the United States Senate. — John Warner, 2007-08-31, carried on MSNBC and other news outlets
Trouble is, that's not what the Constitution says. Per the 20th Amendment, his term expires at noon on Janury 3, 2009, a Saturday. Specifically,
[T]he terms of Senators and Representatives [shall end] at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin. — Amendment XX, Section 1, U.S. Constitution, ratified 1933
Maybe Robert Byrd can give Warner a vest-pocket copy of the Constitution as a retirement present.

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