As I mentioned earlier, Governor Rod Blagojevich has appointed former State Attorney General Ronald Burris to replace Barack Obama in the Senate. I didn’t think any self-respecting person would take this job. If David Patterson (Governor of New York) calls you up, take the job. If the Illinois governor is on the line, you should duck the call. Ronald Burris was too ambitious. He was compelled to answer the phone and say yes. Now what? Senate majority leader Harry Reid said that the Democratic caucus would not seat Ronald Burris. Really? On what basis? The State Attorney General has refused to sign off on this appointment as if he has veto power, which he doesn’t. At least I haven’t yet been able to find evidence of it in the Illinois Constitution.
The popular blog Firedoglake said this earlier:
It would certainly be interesting to watch the same Senate who gave convicted felon Ted Stevens a standing ovation (Reid calling him “distinguished colleague”) exclude Burris.
Secretary of State Jesse White has said he will refuse to sign the paper work certifying the appointment, but it’s not clear that his signature represents anything more than a formality. Nonetheless Burris is suing to force him to sign (PDF).
BMAZ at Emptywheel added:
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White: As you have probably heard, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has refused to certify Blagojevich’s appointment of Roland Burris. The problem I see with this is that there is no legal basis whatsoever for SoS White’s conduct in this regard.
White appears to be abrogating Illinois law all by himself, and he simply does not have the power to do that. Signing the certification is a ministerial act, not an established right of veto. The decision on who to appoint is the governor’s and the governor’s alone under Illinois law; there is no power promulgated for the SoS to have decision making authority. If White can simply refuse to sign the certification, and that stops the process in it’s tracks, he would have unmitigated veto power over the appointment. He does not.
I need to throw in a few words from The Carpetbagger @ Washington Monthly:
Should Roland Burris show up for duty in the Senate on Tuesday, armed police officers stand ready to bar him from the floor.
This cinematic showdown is among an elaborate set of contingencies that Democratic leaders are planning if, as expected, the former Illinois attorney general appointed by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich shows up with newly elected senators to press his claim that he is the legitimate replacement for President-elect Barack Obama.
I really don’t see any good alternatives. Obviously, I would prefer that we don’t seat a senator who is tainted by the hand of Rod Blagojevich. Unfortunately, he is the governor and he has the power to appoint someone. We have to assume, until US Attorney General Patrick Fitzgerald tells us otherwise… that Ronald Burris is not tainted and didn’t buy his Senate seat. Mr. Burris should be seated because there is no legal reason NOT to seat him. The legislators in the Illinois House needed to move quickly to remove the governor from office, which they didn’t do. So we are stuck. We must remember that, after all, we are a nation of laws.