Saturday, February 24, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions about Filling a California Constitutional Office Vacancy

Where is the state law to fill a constitutional office vacancy? It is in the state constitution, in Article V, Section 5, which provides for the filling of a vacancy in a constitutional office.

What are the nine constitutional offices in California? They are the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Board of Equalization Members, Controller, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Treasurer.

When are constitutional officers elected? They are elected by statewide ballot every four years.

Who will fill the vacancy in the office of the governor? A vacancy in the office of the governor was filled by the lieutenant governor.

How are other constitutional offices filled in this state? Section 5(a) of Article V provides, “Unless the law provides otherwise, the Governor may fill a vacancy in office by appointment until a successor is qualified.” Consequently, some offices may be filled by the appointment of the governor.

What else does the state constitution provide? Specifically, Section 5(b) of Article V provides, in part, “Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, or Attorney General, or the State Board of Equalization, the Governor shall nominate a person to fill the vacancy.”

How does the governorship appointment work? According to Section 5(b), once nominated by the Governor, the appointee shall hold the office of confirmation by a majority of the members of the Senate and Assembly. Once confirmed by both houses of the Legislature, the person holds office for the balance of the unexpired term.

What is an example of a recent governorship appointment to a constitutional office? In 2021, after former Secretary of State Alex Padilla was named United States Senator to fill the vacancy created by the election of former US Senator Kamala Harris to be the Vice President of the United States, Governor Gavin Newsom named former Assemblywoman Dr. Shirley Weber to fill that vacancy. The Assembly and Senate voted to confirm his nomination.

What happens if one or both houses of the Legislature do not confirm a governor nominee? Section 5(b) also provides, “In the event that the nominee is not confirmed or refuses to be confirmed by the Senate and the Assembly within 90 days of the submission of the nomination, the nominee shall take office as if he had been confirmed. by a majority of the Senate and Assembly.” Consequently, if the gubernatorial nominee is not confirmed by either house or no house rejects the nominee within 90 days, then the nominee takes office.

What happens if a gubernatorial nominee is confirmed in only one house and the nomination is rejected by the other house? In the case of Lungren v. Deukmejian, the California Supreme Court in 1988 stated, “We conclude that Section 5(b) requires confirmation by both houses of the Legislature unless it fails to act on a nomination within 90 days, in which case the nominee is considered confirmed under the second sentence of the provision. When, as here, one house votes against a nominee, the nomination is rejected, as are other matters requiring legislative action.

What happens if the 90-day review period expires while the Legislature is not in session? If the 90-day period expires during a recess of the Legislature, the period shall be extended until the sixth day after the day on which the Legislature reconvenes.

Are there any laws in California on vacant constitutional offices? Yes, in addition to Section 5 of Article V, there are several provisions of the law dealing with vacancies. These provisions are found in the Government Code, Title 1 (General), Division 4 (Public Officers and Employees), Chapter 4 (Resignations and Vacancies), and Article 2 (Vacancies). These provisions are contained in Sections 1770–1782.

What does Government Code Section 1770 provide? It specifies the various circumstances in which an office may become vacant, primarily upon the occurrence of any events occurring before the expiration of the term listed in this section. There are 13 such events specified in this code section.

What does Government Code Section 1775 provide? It deals with vacancies in any of the constitutional offices. It contains the same language as in Article V, Section 5(b). In addition, it contains the following provision: “After a vacancy occurs in an office specified in this section and before the time that such vacancy is filled as provided in this section, the chief deputy of constitutional officers above must fulfill the duties of the office.”

World Nation News Desk
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