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Republicans Should Seat Burris

Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, somehow thinks he should have a say in the Senatorial appointments/elections in Illinois.  Putting aside a general election (which I would prefer), it is a forgone conclusion that Illinois will anoint a Democrat to fill Obama’s Senate seat. So what? Governor Blagojevich’ appointment of Ronald Burris is legal and doesn’t seem to require any other approvals (like that of the State’s Secretary of State).

The Democrats are in a furor, trying to block one of their own, a guy who has pretty impeccable credentials (he was the first Black person elected to statewide office in Illinois) and appears honest (he’s never been charged with anything, served as Comptroller [Treasurer] AND Attorney General). This is the time for Republicans to sit back and laugh.

Despite media to the contrary, the Democrats can’t refuse to seat a Senator: it takes two thirds (67 votes) of the entire Senate, not just a 56-60 majority party vote to eject a legitimate Senator or Senator-Elect. Remember, Obama resigned his Senate seat. Joe Biden has yet to resign. The Minnesota Senate seat of Norm Coleman (R) is still up-for-grabs.

Republicans don’t have a horse in this race. Whether that requires a vote of “present/abstain” or “NO” to a resolution to unseat Burris, our (R) Senators need to step back and enjoy the fray.

US Constitution:

Amendment XVII (17):

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority [that means the Governor] of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

[Note: the Illinois legislature declined to strip Blagojevich of his power of appointment.]

Article I, Section 3:

Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.

Illinois Constitution:

Article II, Section 9:

(a) The Governor shall nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a majority of the members elected concurring by record vote, shall appoint all officers whose election or appointment is not otherwise provided for. Any nomination not acted upon by the Senate within 60 session days after the receipt thereof shall be deemed to have received the advice and consent of the Senate. The General Assembly shall have no power to elect or appoint officers of the Executive Branch.
(b) If, during a recess of the Senate, there is a vacancy in an office filled by appointment by the Governor by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, the Governor shall make a temporary appointment until the next meeting of the Senate, when he shall make a nomination to fill such office.
(c) No person rejected by the Senate for an office shall, except at the Senate’s request, be nominated again for that office at the same session or be appointed to that office during a recess of that Senate.

There is nothing in the Illinois Constitution that requires the State’s Secretary of State to sign off on an appointment; the State Senate might be able to reverse the appointment, but they would have to go on record opposing a respected Black politician who served in two elected state-wide offices. If the State Senate kicks Burris out, he won’t be eligible to run for the seat in an election or subsequent appointment. Illinois politicians aren’t stupid; they won’t oppose Burris, no matter how much money Candidate 5 (Jesse Jackson Jr.) throws at them.

The Democrats in the US Senate may be drooling over how many contributions they can extract to not oppose an Illinois Senator-elect. But, if our Republicans can stand solid in staying above the fray, doing nothing is a win!

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