Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is set to appoint former state attorney general Roland Burris to the Senate seat of president elect Barack Obama. Although Senate Democrats have vowed not to seat any Blago appointee, there appears to be little that they can legally do to not seat Burris.
The problem for Senate Democrats is that Burris is not the issue. Burris meets all the qualifications laid out in Article 1 Sec. 3 Clause 3 of the Constitution, “No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.”
The Democrats best hope to block the appointment would be at the state level, where Sec. of State Jesse White has to certify any appointment, and he put out a statement today saying that he won’t certify Burris’s appointment.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times White said, “I have previously stated publicly I cannot cosign a document that certified any appointment by Rod Blagojevich for the vacant United States Senate seat in Illinois. Although I have respect for former Attorney General Roland Burris, because of the current cloud of controversy surrounding the governor, I cannot accept the document.”
The fact is that there is nothing legally wrong with the appointment at the federal level. Blagojevich is still the governor of the state, which means that under the law, he has the power to appoint Obama’s replacement. Burris seems to have done nothing that would disqualify him from being seated.
The Senate Democratic leadership looks to be trying to block the appointment any way they can in the hope that the governor will be forced out of office, and his replacement would make the appointment. This is shaping up to be a prolonged and distracting fight that Senate Democrats really don’t need right now.