The AP reported this morning that the Senate had decided to seat Roland Burris, the replacement for Barack Obama appointed by scandal-tainted Governor Rod Blagojevich, after denying him yesterday. The AP then retreated from that report, but Senate Democratic leadership will meet with Burris today to find a way out of the box into which Blagojevich stuck them:
There is no deal by Senate Democrats to accept Roland Burris for President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant seat, a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid said, denying an Associated Press report to the contrary.
The AP also backed off its initial report, saying there is no final deal yet.
Senate Democratic leaders are sitting down with Burris in the Capitol this morning.
The AP said officials were searching for a way to let him take over Obama’s vacated Senate seat a day after they turned him away for having incomplete paperwork.
Eventually, Burris will get his seat, because he received his appointment from the only official who had the authority to make it. What choice do they have? All of Blagojevich’s other lawful actions within his authority will be valid, up to the point that the legislature impeaches and removes him or restricts that authority through legislation. Will bills he signs not go into law? Will his vetos not count? Not until he gets lawfully removed from the office to which he twice won election.
It makes for great theater but lousy civics. Burris should have had more self-respect than to agree to the appointment, let alone beg for it as he did from a suspected crook. However, he doesn’t, and the responsibility for this appointment doesn’t lie with the US Senate but with the Illinois legislature, which had the opportunity to strip Blagojevich of the authority to make the appointment by calling a special election instead. They worried that an election might result in a Republican victory … and Blagojevich exposed their concerns about petty party politics over serving the constituents.
Burris will get his seat by the end of the day. Democrats will not go to court to keep other Democrats from entering the Senate, regardless of the circumstances — and in the event, they have no legal right to block Burris.