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Blagojevich to Appoint Obama Replacement

December 30, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Apparently Rod Blagojevich is going to appoint former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris this afternoon to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

Chicago Tribune:

>Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected today to name former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.
>The action comes despite warnings by Democratic Senate leaders that they would not seat anyone appointed by the disgraced governor who faces criminal charges of trying to sell the post, sources familiar with the decision said.
>Shortly after Obama’s Nov. 4 victory, Burris made known his interest in an appointment to the Senate but was never seriously considered, according to Blagojevich insiders. But in the days following Blagojevich’s arrest, and despite questions over the taint of a Senate appointment, Burris stepped up his efforts to win the governor’s support.
>Though he is 71, Burris has said that Obama’s replacement should be able to win re-election and he has noted that despite a string of primary losses in races ranging from Chicago mayor to governor and U.S. senator, he’s never lost to a Republican.

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Ben Smith at Politico that Reid views Burris as “unacceptable,” and that the Senate will not seat him. But as an astute TPM reader points out, the Senate may not actually have the power to block appointments.

>In Powell vs McCormick, a 1969 case involving Adam Clayton Powell, the Supreme Court said, 7-2, that a house of Congress does NOT have such power-they can judge “qualifications” in the Constitutional sense (age, citizenship, etc). And they can judge elections, but say nothing about appointments. (Nate Silver did a great piece on this awhile back).
>They can probably EXPEL a member as they see fit – though the Court’s decision does not make that clear – but on what grounds? Just because they don’t like the guy who picked him?

If Burris is seated, he will be the only black Member of the Senate.

UPDATE: Senate Democrats have now issued a full statement making clear that they do not approve of Burris’ appointment:

>"It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety. We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris’s ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.

Read the full statement here.

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