I live in Texas, is there an effective proceedure to recall my senator or representatives in Congress?

Has an online petition ever been effective at recalling a Senator or Congressman?

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    is there a mechanism to recall US Senators and Congressman? I am not sure if the states can implement this on a state by state basis. I think this would be considered different than states recalling governors.
    – Bob
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 15:08
  • 4
    Never underestimate the power of simply writing to your elected representitive and telling them what you think about their actions. It takes fewer letters than you might think to have an effect. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 15:27
  • @Bob Yes, indeed, states do implement this on a state by stae basis. That's the beauty of federalism. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 18:48
  • @AffableGeek but only for their STATE representatives, not US representatives.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 21:27
  • Well...first you would have to get a web hosting provider and come up with a cool domain name. Then setup your website. Then create a web form for people to sign. Then make your site active. What's the problem?
    – Dunk
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


Texas does not appear to have provisions for recalls at the state level.

As for the US Congress and Senate, it does not appear that members are subject to recall elections in any shape or form. They may be expelled via a vote of 2/3 of the house in which they sit, but not recalled by an election.

To quote this document from senate.gov:

As to removal by recall, the United States Constitution does not provide for nor authorize the recall of United States officers such as Senators, Representatives, or the President or Vice President, and thus no Member of Congress has ever been recalled in the history of the United States. The recall of Members was considered during the time of the drafting of the federal Constitution in 1787, but no such provisions were included in the final version sent to the states for ratification, and the specific drafting and ratifying debates indicate an express understanding of the framers and ratifiers that no right or power to recall a Senator or Representative in Congress exists under the Constitution.

As for your question, creating an online petition is more of a technical question. You can certainly create a petition for any reason. But even if you receive a large response, there's no current path for you to take to actually get a recall election to happen for a US representative. As such--and perhaps somewhat ironically--you'd likely have to first start petitioning your representative to consider proposing a law giving citizens the right to recall them.

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    States have tried to implement term limits on Congressmen before, and the Supreme Court ruled against it. It's not a far leap from that to recall elections. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 21:13
  • @StephenCollings thanks that does add to the answer
    – user1858
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 14:27

While it seems there is no Constitutional provision for recall, there is some question as to whether the people have this right under the 10th Amendment. But, failing that, the people do have valid mechanisms for Amending the Constitution to give the States and the People the specific right and procedure for recalling Federal Senators and Congresspersons. Needless to say, it probably isn't there already because incompetent actions like the current shutdown are stock and trade for our Federal Legislative Branch over the past several years.

  • If you were going to the effort of a Constitutional amendment (a/k/a super-majority); adding a simple set of dissolution triggers to the Constitution would be more cost effective than recall referenda (elections to have elections). In practice the bicameral legislature needs a "minimum functionality" clause whereby the current crop gets ejected to an early election if failing to meet the minimum. This should be non-partisan if written correctly. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 2:20
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    There is no question at all regarding the 10th amendment. SCOTUS has ruled more than once that the 10th amendment does not reserve a right for a state to recall a federal officer. New laws could be written to allow recalls and term limits and as you state, the Constitution could be amended.
    – CramerTV
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 21:06
  • @CramerTV a statutory provision for recalls would fail. The constitution provides for removal of members of congress, so additional means of removal are excluded. The only way to provide for recall elections is to amend the constitution.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 7 at 7:53
  • @LateralFractal Sadly, your proposal is partisan to a certain degree. There's a certain strand of conservative (not just in the U.S., and not just recently) that believes that government is always inefficient and does a poor job, and one of the ways they demonstrate this is by getting into power and making the government do an inefficient and/or poor job.
    – cjs
    Commented Mar 7 at 11:10

It seems that under the tenth amendment citizens, or the people, should be able to exert their will in a matter like this. A nationwide petition would help convince your state to issue a recall, and an appeal to your state legislation to provide opportunity to recall would have to occur.

Start calling your state representatives about the Texas recall process.

  • Just because it's never been done doesn't stop us from instigating the process.
    – Karen
    Commented Oct 19, 2013 at 10:17
  • Once a country has been pushed into a two-party cul-de-sac, it can be very difficult to get the legislature to vote against its own interest. Any recall, let alone an Amendment to clear up structural flaws would be actively rebuffed. Politely, but actively. Commented Oct 19, 2013 at 11:13
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    I wonder how exactly the tenth amendment would mean that a senator or representative can be recalled? Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 9:52

As to the question of effective procedure for a federal recall, the path is not specified by the Constitution, but the powers of the people point to what is possible. We know that requisite signatures for petitions, propositions, ballots, or state-administered conventions for amendments would involve state participation and are declared by the courts to be a conflict of powers. Several attempts at state-initiated federal recalls have failed, as is general knowledge on wiki sites. It is erroneous to include state powers in a federal recall process because they will be struck down by the courts, but their services can be used to administer people-initiated functions.

However, the amended powers clause of the Tenth Amendment defines the people's authority as "reserved federal powers", whenever "federal powers are not delegated". The federal powers of the people, for whichever branches of government are at least unauthorized of the Constitution, are assumed to be temporary while the duty to restore constitutional government is needed. It is unclear what the constitutional mechanism is to define revoked delegated authority. But certainly, the people hold the position of enforcement by revoking consent - which could occur by a recall election, assumed to stem from First Amendment rights to assemble and petition for redress.

Yet, either of those First Amendment rights by themselves, even without states' participation, could fail. For example, an assembly that does not guarantee the participation of multiple groups and regions could not be representative of the United States. In addition, the federal recall could not itself cause a catastrophic failure of the Constitution. A petition that would cause grief and harm to other groups would not ever last. So, the people will have to ensure the process is fair, even while removing any grievances that may have caused the recall in the first place.

In other words, the courts won't recognize a recall if its rules overtly benefit one group over another. This means, the most successful recall will be a people-initiated federal recall that aids in the process for revocation of federal authority, and is founded on petition by general assembly of the people, without administrative involvement from the states. This line of thinking is consistent with the Rules for Specific Federal Recall Election and Procedures, 2013 and the Revised Petition For Redress of Grievances founded on the Continental Congress 2.0 in 2012, according to Will of the People Constitutional Authority Board, as follows:

The Federal Recall held on January 14, 2014 removed the President, President of the Senate (Vice-president), Speaker of the House, Chief Justice, a leading Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (Joseph Scalia), Congressmen serving more than 2 terms, and Senators serving more than one term. This was non-partisan and equitable in its designation.

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    Do you have links to these election results? I am wondering why Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia is still being allowed to be seated and vote on the Supreme court if he was recalled. And why isnt the media reporting any of this and making these people step down! Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 20:05

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