Newsom's pick to replace Feinstein faces scrutiny over Maryland residency

Butler has, since 2021, served as the president of the pro-abortion Emily's List and appears to reside in Silver Spring, Md.

Published: October 2, 2023 8:46pm

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced the appointment of Laphonza Butler to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died Friday at the age of 90, but the pick attracted ridicule from conservatives due to her residing in Maryland for the past two years.

Butler has, since 2021, served as the president of the pro-abortion Emily's List and appears to reside in Silver Spring, Md., according to the New York Post, which pointed to a Federal Elections Commission filing from August listing the town as her residence.

A spokesperson for Newsom has, however, told the outlet that Butler owns a home in the Golden State and has re-registered to vote there. 

Conservatives, nonetheless, have excoriated the choice of Butler, whom some suggest may not in fact be eligible due to the residency issue.

"If Governor Newsom's Senate pick is seated, I will work with her however I can. But the Senate has an obligation to carefully assess whether Ms. Butler, a Maryland voter, meets the residency requirements in Article I of the Constitution," said California GOP Rep. Kevin Kiley.

Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution addresses the eligibility requirements to serve in the Senate:

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

That Butler has not been "elected" but merely "appointed" may complicate matters. She is expected to serve the remainder of Feinstein's term, which expires in early 2025. She may, however, opt to seek election to a full term, though the field of Democratic candidates is already quite crowded.

Even in the face of the constitutional question, some Republicans have taken a more comedic tone on the matter.

"The appointment of apparent Maryland resident Laphonza Butler to California's U.S. Senate seat has me dusting off my Alabama birth certificate in case Coach Tuberville decides to return to college football," Maryland state Sen. Justin Ready quipped.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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