BREAKING: Rod Blagojevich Fills Senate Vacancy

With former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris:

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.

Blagojevich’s ego is amazing.  He picks someone to replace President-elect Obama in the Senate even after being told point-blank by Harry Reid that the Senate would kick out anyone he picked:

[T]he Majority Leader also makes clear that if Blagojevich sought to name a Senate replacement, which remains within his legal right to do, the Senate would not necessarily seat that pick.

“Please understand that should you decide to ignore the request of the Senate Democratic Caucus and make an appointment we would be forced to exercise our Constitutional authority under Article I, Section 5, to determine whether such a person should be seated,” wrote Reid. (The Senate has ultimate decision making power over seating its members.)

Not so fast. The Supreme Court ruled in Powell v. McCormack that Congress can’t prevent someone who is constitutionally-eligible  from taking office.  Burris was duly appointed by the Governor of Illinois to fill an empty Senate seat and he meets all the constitutional requirements to be a United States Senator.  Thus, it seems that exclusion is a legal impossibility; Burris will have to be allowed to take the seat.

But the Senate does have the power to expel members for almost any reason. So event hough Burris can’t be stopped from taking the seat, as soon as he’s sworn in the Senate can kick him out.  It’s an odd legal technicality, but what it means is that Burris will most likely become the next Senator from Illinois, even if he’s only in office long enough to be kicked out.

Even if Burris might otherwise be a good choice, someone in Rod Blagojevich’s position should not have the power to single-handedly choose a United States Senator.  The people of Illinois deserve representatives who aren’t tainted by scandal, which Burris is simply because he was appointed by Blagojevich.

Rod Blagojevich is flexing his muscles, trying to show that he still has power and influence. He’s playing chicken with Reid and Senate Democrats, so I hope the Democratic caucus has the spine to follow through on their promises and remove Burris from office as soon as legally possible.