Monday is going to be a very special day in America. Illinois Senator Appointee Burris, is planning to show up for work and to be seated on the day the Congress opens for the year. Borrowing a page from the George Wallace playbook, Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to use the capitol police to stop Mr. Burris from integrating the all-white Senate.At least that’s how it will be seen in some circles
It is incredible how Governor Blago was able to turn this entire Senatorial selection into a racial Issue, and a giant “F-you” to Democratic Caucus in the Senate.
The Congressional Black caucus which would have had NO comment if Blago appointed a Caucasian, all of a sudden, believes that Blago had the right to appoint a Senator:
…members of the Congressional Black Caucus are warning their fellow counterparts in the Senate not to block the appointment of someone who would be the chamber’s only black member.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush forcefully backed Blajogevich’s decision on the basis of race this week, warning the public not to “lynch” Blajojevich’s Senate pick.
“This is a matter of national importance,” Rush said at the news conference announcing the selection of Burris for the job. “There are no African-Americans in the Senate, and I don’t think that anyone, any U.S. senator who’s sitting in the Senate right now wants to go on record to deny one African-American for being seated in the U.S. Senate.”
Other caucus members, without referring to race, still stood in favor of seating Burris.
“Burris has been appointed by the governor and I think it would probably work to everybody’s benefit,” Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings told FOX News. “This is a guy who’s 73 years old. Let him go ahead and serve the two years. He’s probably not going to run again and then let somebody else come and run.” (Source Fox News)
So in the end with the pressure from the Black Caucus combined with the fact that Reid’s stance has NO legal standing, there is NO doubt that something thought to be impossible two weeks ago will happen, Governor Blagojevich will have selected the next US Senator…Roland Burris will be the next Senator from Illinois:
Mr. Blagojevich appointed Mr. Burris to represent Illinois on Tuesday, ahead of the official start of the 111th Congress next week. This was certainly an act of brash defiance given that nearly everyone had warned the Governor not to do so after he was heard on tape contemplating the sale of the seat for personal gain. But under Illinois law, Mr. Blagojevich had every legal right to do so.
As the Governor said in his announcement, the Illinois public also deserves its full measure of representation in Washington. Mr. Burris is a former state attorney general who is untainted by the charges against Mr. Blagojevich. After the Blagojevich tapes were made public, Democrats who run the state legislature said they’d pass a law to require a special election for the Senate. But their passion for that option ebbed when it became clear that a Republican could win, especially amid this Democratic fiasco. When the legislature failed to act, Mr. Blagojevich saw his opening to name Mr. Burris.
Meanwhile, Mr. Reid and Washington Democrats are refusing to seat Mr. Burris, never mind their lack of authority to do so. As an initial matter, they’re hiding behind the Illinois secretary of state, who is refusing to certify the appointment. But Mr. Burris has asked a court to order the secretary of state to carry out what under state law would typically be a nondiscretionary duty. In any event, Beltway Democrats can’t inject themselves into what is clearly a matter of Illinois law.
The legal precedent here is the Supreme Court’s 7-1 decision in Powell v. McCormack in 1969. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell had been accused of corruption but was nonetheless re-elected in 1966. House Democrats declined to seat him, Powell sued, and the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had acted unconstitutionally in denying him his seat. Congress could have expelled Powell with a two-thirds vote, as stipulated in the Constitution, but it couldn’t deny him the seat in the first instance.
While the Constitution says the Senate can determine its own membership, the Court in Powell interpreted Article I, Section 5 to say that “in judging the qualifications of its members, Congress is limited to the standing qualifications prescribed in the Constitution.” Nowhere in the Constitution is there a “qualification” saying that a Senator must not have been appointed by an embarrassing Illinois Governor.
Mr. Reid is also attempting the dodge of referring the matter to the Senate Rules Committee, which is run by Democrats, but the Powell precedent ought to be clear even to political lawyers. If Mr. Reid wants to banish Mr. Burris, he must first seat him and then persuade two-thirds of the Senate to expel him. Needless to say, the last thing Mr. Reid wants to do is create turmoil in his party by expelling an African-American Democrat whose only offense has been to accept an appointment to serve. But if Mr. Reid does go that route, we’d suggest worthier expulsion possibilities, such as Connecticut’s Chris Dodd, who received sweetheart mortgages from Countrywide Financial while sitting on the Banking Committee.
Republicans want Illinois to hold a special election for the vacant seat, and we recommended that ourselves (as did Mr. Obama) when the Blagojevich tapes first became public. But now that Mr. Burris has been appointed, Mr. Reid can’t legally deny him his seat. If this is the way Democrats are going to use their new monopoly on Beltway power even against a member of their own party, we’re in for an ugly couple of years.