Initiative, referendum, and recall enable voters, by petition, to propose or repeal legislation, or to remove an elected official from office. Eighteen states permit the recall of state officials; NYS does not. The recall of California Governor Gray Davis in 2003 was a recent instance of recall.
It is unlikely that US Senators and Representatives can be recalled under state law.
- In 1967 US Senator Frank Church was the subject of an unsuccessful recall effort. Courts ruled that a federal official is not subject to state recall laws.
- In 2009 Joseph Cao, U.S. representative for Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district, was found ineligible for recall.
The United States Constitution does not provide for recall of United States officers such as Senators, Representatives, or the President or Vice President. No member of Congress has ever been recalled.
The Constitution does provide two methods for removing a President.
- Twenty-fifth Amendment
Neither of these is very practical nor has been successfully used; either would be controversial, most likely. Recall, if it were possible, might allow the removal of a President without partisan wrangling–a vote of the people would avoid the appearance of partisan unfairness.