Thursday, January 01, 2009

Roland Burris

Rod Blagojevich nominated former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill Obama's Senate seat. Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago played the Race Card, saying "I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer".

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will refuse to seat Burris. Eugene Volokh doubts the court would allow the Senate not to seat Burris because of Powell v. McCormack, but Akhil Amar and Josh Chafetz in Slate believes the Senate easily has the power to block the governor's appointment of Roland Burris. Eugene Volokh and Ann Althouse respond to the Slate article.

Jack Balkin, Scott Lemieux, and Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog pontificate on the matter.

It should be interesting to watch. Reid risks offending the Congressional Black Caucus by refusing to seat Burris, but if he does, he risks tieing Blagokevich to the Senate, and with the many other Senators and Congressmen (like Dodd and Frank) with ethical clouds over them, he does not want to get close to Blago at all.

Laurence H. Tribe says the arguments saying the Senate must seat Burris miss the mark as well. The fact that he is indisputably "qualified" in the constitutional sense has no bearing on the authority of the Senate under Article I, Section 5 to serve as the sole "Judge of the Elections"--and, by extension, the temporary appointments--of would-be members.... The Senate's early December decision to exclude any Blagojevich appointee reflected nothing about the particular person he appointed cuts for, not against, leaving the matter to the judicially unreviewable judgment of the Senate itself. For the danger of invoking doubts about the process of election or appointment, as a pretext for excluding someone that a Senate majority finds objectionable, is minimized when the decision to exclude is made in advance of any individual's appointment, and thus under the classical philosopher's veil of ignorance about whose ox might be gored.

Baltimore Sun reported Should Roland Burris show up Tuesday for duty in the Senate, armed police officers stand ready to bar him from the floor. Jane Hamsher says Harry Reid's back is against the wall. He thinks that if he doesn't oppose Rod Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, John Cornyn and the Republicans will make the Democrats wear Blago around their necks for the rest of their natural lives. And on that count, he's probably right. Athenae says I don't even know what to do when Harry Reid wakes up from his two-year nap and discovers that THIS is a bridge too far.

Plan B
Chicago Tribune reported Senate Democrats also have a follow-up plan: Refusing to seat Burris until the Senate Rules Committee completes an investigation into whether the appointment process was tainted by corruption. Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges that he tried to sell the Senate seat.

The plan is for the Senate committee investigation to extend longer than the Illinois impeachment process under way against Blagojevich, leaving open the possibility that a new governor would make a rival Senate appointment. The end game that Democratic leaders are considering is to then seat the new governor's choice. That could allow the Senate to accept the new appointee without going through the formal process of explicitly voting to reject Burris.... While the process slogs along, it's also possible that Burris could take on some limited trappings of office.

Past practice in the Senate has been to grant a senator whose credentials are disputed office space and payroll for a staff, as well as floor privileges—but not a Senate seat—until the situation is resolved. So Burris potentially could be allowed to enter the exclusive club, but not as a full member, without the ability to vote, speak or even literally sit at a senator's desk.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Senate leaders have not yet decided whether they would follow that tradition. Other officials said senators are reluctant to break with custom on such matters but that permitting Burris any of the perquisites of office also has potential political drawbacks. He could sue to sit.

Ann Althouse says So at at time when there isn't a single black person in the U.S. Senate, a black man arrives at the doorway and means to go forward to take what he believes is his rightful seat... [photo of George Wallace standong in the schoolhouse door to block integration of Alabama public schools ] Great imagery, Democrats!

This should be fun to watch. Either way it goes, the Dems look bad. Let's order extra popcorn and prepare to watch the show.

Steve Chapman says Burris is An empty suit for an empty seat. He has lost races for mayor of Chicago, U.S. senator, and governor (three times).

That should make him perfectly qualified for being a Senator. He has more qualifications than Caroline Kennedy, who wants Hillary's seat. He may have lost those elections, but at least he ran.
No one thinks more of Roland Burris than he does. Burris has already charted his esteemed career path on the walls of his future grave in Chicago's Oak Woods Cemetery.

No comments: