California’s New Senator Need Not Be a Resident Before Being Appointed to Office

California Governor Gavin Newsom is going to appoint Laphonsa Butler as the new Senator to replace Senator Feinstein, who died last week.

Butler used to live in California and still owns a house here, but is currently a Maryland resident while she works for EMILY’s List.

As I told the LA Times, someone need not be a resident of California before taking a position as a U.S. Senator or Member of the House of Representatives—only a resident once assuming office (and Butler will be registering again as a California voter).

The relevant case is Schaefer v. Townsend, 215 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2000), cert denied sub nom. Jones v. Schaefer, 532 U.S. 904 (2001), in which the Ninth  Circuit held that “California’s requirement that candidates to the House of Representatives reside  within the state before election violates the Constitution by handicapping the class of nonresident  candidates who otherwise satisfy the Qualifications Clause.”

Opinion by Judge O’Scannlain.

UPDATE: A much closer look in the weeds (that ends up in the same place) by Stephen Sachs. The textual wrinkle is a resident upon being elected (and this is an appointment).

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