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What, Oh, What is to be Done About Burris?

rolandburris-1.thumbnail.jpgIllinois Secretary of State Jesse White was just on MSNBC reiterating that he will not sign Blagojevich’s appointment of Roland Burris to fill Obama’s vacant Senate seat, and that he expects the matter to be resolved by the courts in a few days.


Remember, this is the same court that refused to entertain Lisa Madigan’s rather goofy attempt to remove Blagojevich on grounds of "disability." So as far as they’re concerned, nobody’s changed Blago’s status.

There certainly is no "consensus opinion" about the Burris appointment. Taking a spin around the toobz:

Sojournor’s Place:

In a move that can only be described as akin to the throwing of the shoe, Rod Blagojevich, the embattled Governor, has just told Illinoisans, the feds, and Harry Reid to "talk to the hand" minus 3 fingers and a thumb. Even Michael Corleone would have to "respect what he’s done".


The Senate leadership is on questionable legal ground here–a fix that is in part its own making, because Harry Reid resisted the idea of a special election to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat. As it stands, Blagojevich is still the Governor of Illinois, and Burris meets the constitutional requirements for being a Senator: He is over 30 years old, has been a citizen for at least nine years and is a resident of the state that he would represent. The most relevant legal precedent would suggest that Congress does not have the power to add any other requirements.

Keith Boykin, The Daily Voice:

I know that Bobby Rush and some other black politicians will try to make this into a racial issue, but it is not. This choice is purely about one man, Rod Blagojevich, and his efforts to preserve his job and positively impact his potential pool of jurors.

Yes, Illinois deserves to have the Senate seat filled as quickly as possible, and yes I would like to see an African American, if possible, in that seat. But the method and manner by which the governor made his decision today is all wrong, and Roland Burris does not inspire confidence.

Mark Allen, The Daily Voice:

The majority of the debate over the selection of Roland Burris has been more "political" versus "legal." When you separate the emotional "political" analysis versus the "legal" analysis, then it is clear to me that Roland Burris will be seated as the next U.S. Senator from Illinois. And as a constitutional lawyer, President-elect Obama and other "experienced" elected leaders should see the same "legal" reality.

Big Tent Democrat:

When will Burris be able to sue? Probably when Blago is removed from office, his replacement is in place and names a different person to fill the Illinois Senate seat, who is then seated by the Senate….The real world does not often resemble law review articles, especially when politics is involved.


I suspect that a lot of people will find [the Senate’s] high regard for abstract "process" somewhat bizarre in light of the fact that they blithely allowed Larry Craig to sit in the senate for two years, while this man who has not even been accused of wrongdoing will be barred from the door. The optics are terrible.


This is all over Black talk radio, which can be like all other talk radio in ginning up positions and false equivalences, whether real or imagined. While I, as an African American woman, think Burris is an incredible opportunist, you can bet the idea of not seating him in the US Senate is not playing well in Black America.

America is not in a post-racial (or post-partisan) phase yet – no matter how we may wish it to be so.


Thanks to the Senate Dems, a bad situation (a charged-but-not-indicted governor’s legitimate and unalterable authority to appoint) has been made infinitely worse by putting themselves in a position to look like the heavy-handed and undemocratic bad guys. To compound the farce, the Senate Dem caucus would need 7 Republican votes to expel Burris. Homer is laughing. Yeah.. the ancient one AND Simpson.

I have to agree with Moe Lane on this:

All of this means that on Tuesday we may be treated to the sight of an elderly African-American being led off the Senate floor in handcuffs because his sitting there would be contrary to the collective wish of old, white Democrats….This very well may be the single greatest act of vicious political revenge that I have seen in my lifetime. It’s a pity that Rod Blagojevich couldn’t have used his powers for good.

I have never gone wrong betting that in the end, Harry Reid will do the el-foldo. I think my money is safe there once again.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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