Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Roland Burris to be named to replace Obama in Senate; Senate leaders say they will not seat Burris.

| 16 Comments

Updated 12:08 a.m. Chicago time

WASHINGTON---I've learned that Gov. Blagojevich will name former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace President elect Barack Obama in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon. The embattled Blagojevich is fighting impeachment charges in the Illinois House for, among other reasons, trying to auction off the Senate seat held by President elect Barack Obama. Blagojevich called a press conference for 2 p.m. Chicago time at the Thompson State of Illinois Center.

However, Burris will face resistance from the Senate Democrats who control the chamber in seating him, I've just been told by Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.).

Reid had said when the Blagojevich scandal broke earlier this month he would ask the Senate not to seat any Blagojevich appointee, in order to make sure the seat is free of taint. All the Senate Democrats concurred. Manley said Reid's position has not changed.

Officials in Washington familiar with the situation call the Burris appointment "regrettable" and told me under the circumstances Burris "cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and will not be seated by the Democratic caucus."
Burris was the first African American to win statewide office in Illinois when he was elected comptroller, serving from 1983 to 1991. He served as Illinois Attorney General from 1991 to 1995. Burris previously ran and lost bids for the U.S. senate and governor.

If tapped as planned, Burris would be the sole African American in the U.S. Senate and the fourth African American to ever serve in the Senate. Illinois has produced three of the four African Americans in the Senate: Carol Moseley Braun, President elect Obama and now Roland Burris.

16 Comments

You neglected Hiram Revels and Blanche K. Bruce, the first two African American senators. They were Reconstruction-era Republicans from Mississippi.

Hold On Honorable Senator Reid, the question is : is Roland qualified for the job ? . let's say for the sake of the discussion that Caroline Kennedy is nominated to replace Hillary and has a comparable service experience to Roland, and you are going to seat Caroline and not Roland on the ground that the man who nominated him is contested in his home state(not convicted). What about the sexual endeavors surrounding the Governor of New York ? I don't know Senator, the people of Illinois want their senate seat filled and they want that Now.

You (and Harry Reid) may want to speak with some constitutional experts. This is from Slate:
"Although the Senate is the judge of its members' qualifications, Reid may be overstepping his authority. In the 1969 case Powell v. McCormack, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress is limited to determining whether a person meets the constitutional requirements for membership—30 years old, nine years a citizen, and a resident of his state—or was legitimately elected. "Saying the appointee lacks the necessary 'qualifications' simply because the appointing governor is believed to be corrupt or untrustworthy or deserving of removal seems to be foreclosed by Powell v. McCormack," said Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA School of Law. "And the 'elections' and 'returns' provision would only allow them to refuse to seat a senator if there are allegations that this seat was obtained through bribery or other illegal conduct. If he picked somebody who'd never been talked about as a possible source of a bribe, it's hard to see how his appointment could be disqualified." "

Roland Burris has always been a politically civil leader and a true gentleman. I find it hard to believe that he would allow himself to be "played" this way by Blago. Burris should be very much above this. I hope he knows better.

You are seeing Illinois I mean Chicago politics as usual.

Sorry folks, those of us outside of Chicago are voters and what you are doing there makes the whole state look like the most uneducated population ever.

Again, Chicago run over the public, and give us no choice in this!!! A friend of Blago's, and though you will read this as racist it is not ment to be that way. There is no demand that a black man replace Obama, what about the peoples choice for the most qualitfied? Not the city of Chicago politics as usual. You will see more connections here with Burris. What if... only a white could replace a white? Gosh I sometimes dispise this state I was born in, and live in.

lynn, you should repeat that old addage about 'casting stones', particularly when it comes to saying burris', "time has past." there are serious journalist that would laugh and say, ditto, yes?

The Illinois Constitution gives a sitting governor the right to appoint a replacement. Governor Blagojevich has not been indicted of any wrongdoing and has been tried in the press and the court of public opinion.

The Democrats in Illinois get exactly what they deserve.

You reap what you sow.

Dear Lyn,

As I understand it, the Governor once said a in the last few weeks that he was under no authority to appoint a black person to this position. If that is the case why even appoint Burris who is black? We live in democracy in which majority rules; I would like to point out that Caucasians make up 76% of population for this Congressional District? I can not help but think that the Governor is still trying to play this game of appeasement to the voters of Illinois. Representative Bobby Rush’s comments, at this recent news conference only seem to reinforce this opinion. Realistically speaking, the Governor could in fact have appointed a Republican to this seat, and quit possibly that appointment would have sailed through, since Harry Reid the Democratic Majority leader in the U. S. Senate does not control Republicans caucus. The Republicans presumably would have welcomed this tactic because it would have created a block to anything the National Democratic Party could do such as creating a filibuster in the Senate, despite the Governors on going legal problems.

I have one very last question for you, has there been any idea for the Governor may pick to replace the seats vacated by Rahom Emmanuel or Ray LaHood?


Sincerely,

Pete Suffield
DeKalb, Illinois

You so called journalists just don't get it do you? Blagojevich has been convicted of no crime and is the governor of the state of Illinois. By his position he has the right to appoint people to fill open Senate seats for Illinois. What is unclear about that?

The Illinois legislators are completely asleep at the switch, and they are the ones in fact that are not doing their jobs. Right after Blagojevich was arrested, it was they that said they would pass a veto proof law preventing Blagojevich from making the Senate appointment. What ever happened to that law? How soon we forget I guess.

Now the Illinois House is trying to impeach Blagojevich. You really don't need any reason to impeach anyone, but even though the Illinois House has dozens of reasons, they have yet to vote. Why? My guess is, they don't have the votes. As each day goes by, it's becoming more and more clear that Blagojevich will walk away free and clear from this scandal.

IT IS UNFORTUNATE FOR ROLAND BURRIS WHO HAS BEEN A
PUBLIC SERVENT, THAT HAS SERVE THE CITZENS OF THE
STATE OF ILLINOIS WITH A SENSE OF INTEGRITY,CONSIDERING
NO LESS THAN 1000 PUBLIC SEVENTS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS HAVE BEEN CONVICTED, BUT I THINK THIS SEAT WILL
REQUIRE A SPCIAL ELECTION REGARDLESS OF THE CONSEQUENCES.


ISAAC L. PENNINGTON

IT IS UNFORTUNATE FOR ROLAND BURRIS WHO HAS BEEN A
PUBLIC SERVENT, THAT HAS SERVE THE CITZENS OF THE
STATE OF ILLINOIS WITH A SENSE OF INTEGRITY,CONSIDERING
NO LESS THAN 1000 PUBLIC SEVENTS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS HAVE BEEN CONVICTED, BUT I THINK THIS SEAT WILL
REQUIRE A SPCIAL ELECTION REGARDLESS OF THE CONSEQUENCES.


ISAAC L. PENNINGTON

I agree with GregL. What in the world was Buriss thinking by accepting this appointment? How can this be good for him?

THERE MUST BE SOME PENSION BENEFITS FOR ACCEPTING
THIS POSITION, NOBODY IS MENTIONING THIS, BUT
ROLAND BURRIS IS A SMART MAN, HE KNOWS HE CAN'T
WIN IN AN ELECTION, SO THIS IS THE ONLY REASON
HE WOULD TAKE A JOB FROM A FUTURE CONVICTED FELON!

I think that it's sad that Burris and Rush are allowing themselves to be played by this corrupt governor. It's just pathetic. They are supposedly elder statesmen, well if that's the case they should see this for what it is. An attempt by the corrupt governor to try and legitimize himself in the eyes of the public. The fact that Burris would accept the nod from Blago makes him appear to be just another career politician that is using the people as a shield to further his own personal legacy. Sad.

As Attorney General, Roland Burris tried hard to have two men executed he knew to be innocent. As I see it, allowing himself to be used by a corrupt Governor is just another chance for Burris to sell his soul for higher office.

Roland Burris has embarrassed and humiliated himself beyond belief. No one has been able to figure out why he is to determined to take a seat in the Senate - Money? Power? He is a self-involved, egotistical pathetic individual. Who paid whom on this one????

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 30, 2008 11:05 AM.

Emanuel's letter to Blagojevich highlights governor's squandered opportunity. was the previous entry in this blog.

Durbin and all U.S. Democratic Senators implore Blagojevich not to appoint Burris is the next entry in this blog.

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