There is no specific protocol, procedure, or authority set out in the United States Constitution, federal law, or congressional rule for the Senate (or the House) to recognize "incapacity" of a sitting Member and thereby declare a "vacancy" in such office.
Under the general practice and operations in the Senate (as well as in the House), personal "incapacity" of a sitting Member has not generated proceedings to declare the seat vacant.
. . . it would be the particular House of Congress that would have to either declare or, at the least, recognize any such "vacancy" because of any "incapacity" before giving the oath of office and seating anyone presenting himself or herself as having been chosen to fill that seat.
In 1981, Rep. Gladys Noon Spellman of Maryland was re-elected but had a heart attack and fell into a coma before she could take the oath of office. The attending physician of Congress declared "there is no likelihood that she will be able to serve out her term of office." The House adopted a resolution declaring her seat vacant, which triggered the Maryland vacancy provision.
Arizona rules require that a special election must be called within 72 hours of the seat being declared vacant. The winner would fill the seat until 2012, when Giffords' term ends.
Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:20 AM EDT2014-07-29 13:20:26 GMT
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U.S. Marshal David Gonzales of the Arizona District said Thursday that federal agents will work with local officials to locate Wade Cole Dickinson, who escaped from the Camp Verde Detention Center at around 2:30 p.m. on July 12.More >
They were born just two weeks apart. A 10-week-old baby and 8-week-old pit bull have a fascinating relationship. They absolutely adore each other! Louisiana native Brandi Hodges, 25, has posted photosMore >
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Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:38 AM EDT2014-07-29 13:38:06 GMT
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is asking for a temporary restraining order on the office of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to keep MCAO from investigating allegations of campaign mismanagement.More >
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Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-07-29 13:53:10 GMT
Change is in the wind for the quiet border town of San Luis, AZ. The farming community may soon be home to a massive solar wind tower.More >
Change is in the wind for the quiet border town of San Luis, AZ. The farming community may soon be home to a massive solar wind tower - the sheer enormity of which would make it a new Arizona landmark.More >