A Burris in Their Saddle?
According to sources within the Senate, Burris may learn about his fate as early as today. Officials there are considering the authenticity of his appointment without the signature of approval from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. It is possible that he will be seated "without prejudice," allowing the body to reexamine his credentials at a later date when the Blagojevich brouhaha dies down.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Majority Whip, said yesterday that his Democratic colleagues intend to find a resolution to the matter before long, instead of anticipating an appointment from Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn should he be elevated to the governor's mansion.
In a probing editorial yesterday, the Chicago Tribune laid out three scenarios where Democrats in the Senate could continue to contest the legal authenticity of the Burris appointment. This includes dismissing a precedent set in 1969 where a New York Senator was seated on the grounds that he was elected by state voters, the fact that the criminal charges surrounding Blagojevich center on the very senate seat in question, and finally, that the elevation of Burris by the criminally accused governor is nothing more than "lulling," or the concealment of a crime.
Beyond this meandering legalese lies the impeachment of Illinois' 40th governor for the first time in the state's 190-year history. The Illinois House voted 114-1 last Friday in favor of sending impeachment articles in the Senate (Representative Milt Patterson stood as the lone "no" vote). Proceedings on this front are set to begin on or around January 26 as the Senate meets as a judicial body with the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court presiding, and a two-thirds vote necessary to convict and remove Blagojevich from office.
There is no telling how long the latter process will take to play out, but in an ironic twist, Blagojevich himself will preside over the start of the Senate's session on Wednesday as newly-elected members are seated. Just another day in this sad soap opera otherwise known as Prairie State politics.