Casey Fetterman Conundrum
By Bob Small
What is now seen as a “medical condition”? Is it no longer purely physical? Does it now include “clinical depression” and other purely mental conditions? Evidently so, and it’s been a long time coming. If a mental condition has the same incapacitating effect as a physical condition, then how should it not be considered just as serious? I was on leave from my job for about six months in 1997, due to triple bypass surgery. Would I have been granted the same kind of paid or non-paid leave if I had had some form of depression?
Sen. John Fetterman did.
“John is doing exactly what he should do, which is seek help” said Minnesota Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn), who has been public about her battles with depression. She went on to say “Seeking help when you need it is a sign of strength”.
So let’s agree that anyone who needs mental-health care should feel free to seek it, without stigma or retribution.
However, should his or her job, especially if s/he is an elected official, be held open indefinitely? During the period when Pennsylvania’s senior senator, Bob Casey of the Pennsylvania Casey dynasty, was being treated for prostate cancer, the same questions arose.
According to the Pew Research Center, Pennsylvania is among the majority of states that permit the governor to name a US Senate replacement in the event of a resignation, death or expulsion. The last of Pennsylvania’s five appointed senators was Harris Wofford, who was named to replace John Heinz.
In Pennsylvania a special election is held “when someone in office can no longer serve”, according to PA.gov.
According to BipartisanPolicy.org “no sitting member of Congress has ever been replaced for incapacitation”. However, if there were to be a resignation, Gov. Shapiro would choose the successor.
According to the Washington Post, “the hospitalization doesn’t necessarily say anything about his future status,” said Will Cronenwett, Chief of General Psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
There has been some fear expressed in various quarters about the choice the governor might make were Fetterman to resign. The name of Gisele Fetterman has come up, for one.
In conclusion, unless there is a resignation, we are engaging in meaningless speculation about what comes next for him and for the state.