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Burris And White Lock Horns Over Senate Seat

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jan 2, 2009 6:40PM

2009_01_02_burris.jpg The battle to seat the new U.S. Senate appointee is getting more interesting and more confusing by the day. Following the appointment of Roland Burris to the vacant U.S. Senate seat by embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich earlier this week, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White claimed he would refuse to approve the appointment, saying, "He's a gentleman of impeccable credentials...However, I'm standing by my previous statement that I will not certify any recommendation coming from the governor's office...I'm not a rubber stamp. I'm also the keeper of the seal of the State of Illinois." Now, Burris is fighting back as his lawyers have filed a motion to force White to approve the appointment.

The filing is an official request to the Illinois Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction over the mandamus action, that is, action which compels a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly.

The filing says that "no statute...grants the Secretary of State veto power over the Governor's appointments," and that "Any statute that would attempt to grant this power would be unconstitutional."

Read the complaint and motion [both PDF via NBC 5]. Of course, there could be all kinds of drama when Burris shows up for work in D.C. on Tuesday.
Should Burris appear in Washington without that certification, armed police officers stand ready to bar him from the Senate floor, said a Democratic official briefed on Senate leaders' plans.

Leadership also is considering the possibility of Blagojevich appearing in person to escort Burris. Ironically, the scandal-plagued governor would be allowed onto the Senate floor, because sitting governors are allowed floor privileges, while Burris would not without certification. Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said the governor had not decided whether he will appear in Washington next week with Burris.

The Illinois Supreme Court has given no indication of when it'll take up Burris's filings, and with all kinds of lawsuit possibilities, this clusterfuck doesn't show signs of going away any time soon. Thanks, Governor.