Big development — U.S Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals setting legal precedence for filling Senate vacancies?

H/T Hedgehog Report

The timing of this ruling is just too rich.

Today, in the same building where Blagojevich is being tried, lawyers will gather in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge James F. Grady to deal with a June 16 decision handed down by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, written by Judge Diane Wood.

In essence, the decision said that Burris is only a temporary appointee until an election is held to fill the Obama seat. Wood handed the matter back to Grady to figure out the details, including how nominees would be chosen and if a primary — which could cost the state millions of dollars — would have to be held.


At a June 23 hearing before Grady, Assistant Illinois Attorney General Thomas Ioppolo disagreed with Oberman’s argument that an election process could be streamlined and a costly primary could be avoided.

He told Grady the situation was “fraught” with the potential for voter confusion and asked for a rehearing.

Ioppolo told Grady that trying to supplant Burris “doesn’t make sense”; the appellate panel did not understand how Illinois election law works; by the time an election would be certified in December there would be maybe 30 days left to Obama’s original term, and who knows what the Senate would do because the senators ultimately decide who gets seated in the chamber.

Grady replied that all that “makes no difference whatsoever in my view. . . . There shall be an election.”

This is a very interesting development indeed.  Ioppolo is griping about the fact that it wouldn’t make sense to hold a special election by a vote of the people in September to serve out the remainder of Barack Obama’s term and then hold another election in November from what I gather.   Judge Grady seems resolute in firmly stating that the vacancy must be permanently filled by an election as soon as possible regardless of whatever time frame.  There is a huge indirect implication of this:  The vacant Senate seat of the late Robert Byrd. The West Virginia GOP could sue in federal court (appellate court would be in the 4th Circuit) for an election to be held citing both state law and federal law in regards to civil voting rights.  They could use this recent decision in the 7th Circuit as precedent.  The Democratic governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, is likely waiting until after July 3 to proclaim the vacancy though West Virginia law seems to clearly indicate that a vacancy does not have to be proclaimed but must occur.  The reason why this is so key is because the Democrats don’t want a special election happening this November for Senator Byrd’s seat.  This would at minimum force the Democrats to spend money on a race they didn’t figure to as GOP congressmen Shelly Moore Capito may jump in and further imperil the Democrats’ chances of holding onto the Senate.

The GOP has been very quiet on this likely in due respect until Sen. Byrd’s funeral takes place.  I have to wonder what will happen after Sen. Byrd is laid to rest.

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