Roland Burris Denied Senate Seat
As promised, the Senate has refused to seat Roland Burris.
Roland Burris failed in his bid to take President-elect Barack Obama’s Illinois Senate seat on Tuesday in a scripted piece of political theater staged just before the opening of the 111th Congress.
“Mr. Burris is not in possession of the necessary credentials from the state of Illinois,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in his speech opening the new session of Congress.
Burris, 71, earlier confirmed that Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson had informed him in a private meeting that his credentials lacked a required signature and his state’s seal.
“I will not be accepted, I will not be seated,” Burris told a mob of reporters who had followed him across the street for a news conference in a cold and steady rain outside the Capitol.
The former Illinois attorney general said he was “not seeking to have any type of confrontation” over taking the seat that he was appointed to by embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But Burris, who would be the Senate’s only black member, also said he was considering a federal lawsuit to force Senate Democrats to seat him.
I’d contend that a lawsuit is a type of confrontation. Regardless, while there’s nothing preventing the Senate from dragging this thing out in hopes that Blagojevich is ousted from office in time to save them from this fiasco, it’s rather clear that the appointment power is vested in the governor, not the secretary of state. The upshot, though, is to render Obama’s eventual successor the most junior senator rather than, as should have happened, the most senior senator of the incoming class. (Events in Minnesota could make him next-junior, depending on how long it takes to resolve Coleman’s appeal of Franken’s certification.)