Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Would it be so wrong to appoint a person to replace Gabby Giffords in Congress until she is well enough to do the job?

The AP is reporting that Gabby Giffords is back in the hospital following her most recent surgery:

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been transferred back to her rehabilitation hospital in Houston after recovering from last week's surgery at a nearby hospital.

The 40-year-old Arizona Democrat had been recuperating at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center since last Wednesday's surgery to implant a synthetic replacement for a portion of her skull. Doctors also gave Giffords a permanent shunt to relieve fluid buildup in her brain.

Part of Giffords' skull was removed Jan. 8, the same day she was shot in the head in a shooting in Tucson that left six dead and 12 others wounded.

While I am terribly sympathetic to Ms. Giffords and hope for the best for her recovery, I have been thinking lately about how unrepresented the people of her Congressional district have been since Giffords was attacked in that Safeway parking lot.

I think we need a better way to deal with a member of Congress who has become temporarily (or possibly permanently) incapacitated: the governor of her state should be authorized to appoint an interim member who would serve in her place until the Congresswoman has healed or her term expires.

It would be unfair to Giffords to remove her from office in this case. She was duly elected. But it is unfair to her district to have no representation in Congress for nearly 2 years.

I recognize that the Arizona governor is a Republican and Ms. Giffords is a Democrat. So perhaps the fairest choice would be to allow the head of the Democrats in the state legislature to have a veto over the interim appointee. That would hopefully mean the person chosen was agreeable to all parties for the time being.

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