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This just in…

Wednesday, Jan 7, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 1:24 PM - Secretary of State Jesse White has filed his response to the Roland Burris lawsuit designed to force him to co-sign his appointment form.

It’s essentially a punt.

From Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s press release

The response makes it clear that the Secretary of State has done everything he is legally required to do regarding the Burris appointment. […]

Instead, what is at issue here is a form that is not required by law, but is merely “recommended” by a Rule of the U.S. Senate. Moreover, a U.S. Senate Rule cannot impose a legal obligation on the Illinois Secretary of State.

Standing Rule II of the U.S. Senate provides, “The Secretary of the Senate shall send copies of the following recommended forms to the governor and secretary of state of each State wherein an election is about to take place or an appointment is to be made so that they may use such forms if they see fit.” (Emphasis added.)

In contrast, when the U.S. Senate creates a mandatory requirement for a Secretary of State’s signature and seal, they enact a law, and they have not done so in this case.

For example, under federal law, when a U.S. Senator is elected, the State must certify the election under state seal, and the law explicitly requires that the certification of election “shall be countersigned by the secretary of state of the State.” 2 U.S.C. §§ 1(a), (b).

There is no law requiring the Secretary of State to sign a “recommended” form of the U.S. Senate.

The decision to treat the U.S. Senate’s “recommended” form as a legal requirement is a decision of the U.S. Senate. It remains up to the U.S. Senate to seat Mr. Burris.

The full filing is here.

Back to you, Harry Reid.

By the way, Reid said at his press conference that the Senate rule in question has never been waived in the history of the US Senate.

Also, keep in mind that the IL Supreme Court hasn’t uttered a word one way or the other as of yet. They could step in and force a resolution, or they could take the Madigan/White advice and declare there is no legal issue here and punt as well. The other option is just to stay low and hope the heat blows over before they have to make a decision. They’ve already ruled in favor of Blagojevich once (when they rejected AG Madigan’s petition to have him removed from office). You wonder how far they’ll go for the guy.

…Adding… As someone just pointed out to me, this will require Harry Reid to devise yet another way to cave in to Roland Burris. As mentioned above, Reid said the Senate rule has never been waived, but if the Supremes go along with White’s logic, then White will never have to sign the appointment form. Reid will then have to backpedal some more to get this issue off his back. And he’ll look even weaker and more duplicitous. We’ll have to wait and see what the Supremes do.

…Adding again… It appears Ben and I are anonymously crediting each other for the “Reid will have to find another excuse to cave in to Burris” line. lol

* 1:57 pm - Before

On Dec. 30, after Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid and assistant leader Dick Durbin of Illinois said no, plain and simple.

They declared, “Anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic caucus.”


Said Durbin, after he and Reid smiled for photos with Burris at the Capitol: “I think it was important that the United States Senate say — and we did, as a Democratic caucus unanimously — that we were going to carefully scrutinize and review the process by which this Senate seat would be filled if Governor Blagojevich was involved, and that’s what happened.”



  1. - Toni H. - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 1:29 pm:

    Jesse’s got big ones don’t he? Love the fact he is sticking by his word - that’s a rarity nowdays.

  2. - Bakersfield - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 1:31 pm:

    Personally, I would like to see someone with a D next to their name stand up and say “over my dead body” but since that’s never gonna happen I guess I’ll take a “punt”

  3. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 1:40 pm:

    Thank you Mr. Secretary.

  4. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 1:46 pm:

    ===You wonder how far they’ll go for “the guy.”===

    “The Guy?” Isn’t “the guy” still the governor?

    And another thing. Why should they “go far” for anyone in particular? Shouldn’t the IL Supreme Court be judging the issue on merit? Not just because he’s “the guy.”

  5. - NIEVA - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 1:49 pm:

    The constitution is very clear,of age and a citizen! Why do they find it necessary to make things more difficult than they have to be?

  6. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 1:49 pm:

    Calling the governor “the guy” give us “guys” a bad name.

  7. - UnionLeader - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 1:58 pm:

    Jesse White should be impeached next for his abuse of powers or better yet his failure to carry out the duties of his office. Why is he trying to take such a moral high ground on this appointment. Gov.Blago mad is selection after the ILGA fail to strip him of his appointment powers when they had the chance. For god sakes sign the paper already. Sen. Burris should have been seated by now.

  8. - Fan of the Game - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:01 pm:

    I guess the issue now becomes one of the following:

    1. Is signing a legal appointment certification a perfunctory duty of the Secretary of State?

    2. Do the Senate rules merely “recommend” the signature? If so, will the Senate bend on the issue?

  9. - Gabriel - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:02 pm:

    ==They’ve already ruled in favor of Blagojevich once (when they rejected AG Madigan’s petition to have him removed from office).==

    Could the ILSC actually have listened to the AG’s ridiculous assertion that the Governor was mentally incapable of governing?

    It wasn’t a punt. It a refusal to hear a poorly reasoned request for judicial review.

    The judges aren’t gods. Even if they were, the mortals still have the authority to impeach and remove without the gods.

  10. - emyjo - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:13 pm:

    I still believe this Governor is mentally ill. Blagojevich is acting as if nothing is going to happen to him. I suppose he does have a legitimate shot for a hung jury given his recent appointment of Roland Burris. Nevertheless, I still hold out hope that this guy gets serious jail time. Quite frankly, Blagojevich basically gave the blank to Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald can’t be pleased. Burris will be a Senator for the next 2 years and will get a vote of confidence from incoming Governor Patrick Quinn and both will run for re-election and a full terms.

  11. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:16 pm:

    Pathetic spineless Senate Democrats. Since they allowed Joe Lieberman to get away with being a traitor with no punishment, this really was depressingly predictable.

  12. - True Observer - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:20 pm:


    Senate Candidates:

    For Sure: Burris
    Possible: None woth mentioning.

    Burris will run for “re-election” with no name opposition in the Primary. He will not be opposed because he will have the AA vote in his hip pocket. By Nov. 2010, as an elder statesman, of which there are few in Illinois, he will win by a significant margin.

    Governor Candidates:

    For Sure: Quinn, Madigan, Blago.
    Possible: Hynes

    Secretary of State Candidates:

    For Sure: None
    Probable: Giannoulias, White
    Possible: Hynes

    Giannoulias is not going to win the Gov nominiation but has a chance at SOS because of the AA resentment against White.

  13. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:22 pm:

    Rich, why can’t you see the bigger picture here? You don’t screw with the rule of law because Mike Madigan fumbled on the special election bill. Congress does not have the constitutional right to turn away the legal choice of state’s representatives - to say otherwise would be a travesty, and nobody is denying that Blago had the right UNDER CURRENT LAW to appoint Burris. Your wrath should be aimed at the coniving state dems who could have done the right thing but didn’t. (Yes, I’m a Democrat — Country, er, State First!)

  14. - BandCamp - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:24 pm:

    Anyone see this quote from

    ===”We tried to send a political signal to Blagojevich that we would not seat someone he appointed. He called our bluff, in a reckless way,” the Democratic source said.===

    The nation is in a complete fiscal mess and we get treated to political games. Nice.

    There’s a lot of blame to be passed around on this one, and Illinois Republicans now look like Knights in shining armour as they all rode in and threw a tirade over a bill allowing for a special election, on the DEMOCRATS own offering, was squashed by Madigan/Jones.

    Democrats…bah. You break my heart.

  15. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:25 pm:

    “Your wrath should be aimed at the coniving state dems who could have done the right thing but didn’t.”

    Did he support a special election?

  16. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:33 pm:

    Bandcamp here is the link to the story. Blago stuck it to them

  17. - True Observer - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:34 pm:

    Burris, Blago, Rush

    In front of everyone’s eyes, The Three Stooges become the Three Muskateers.

    They should be awarded PhDs in Applied Political Science.

    Rush’s should be award Summa Cum Laude.

    Rush was the genius who got it done. He knew how to frame the discussion so that there was only one possilbe outcome. And that was Durbin and Reid seating Burris and eating crow.

  18. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:40 pm:

    Random observations:

    Dick Durbin has shown he has the spine of a jellyfish since the day he kowtowed to RMD over comments about the Iraq war. He further showed his squishy self when he endorsed springing ol’ George right after winning re-election. Now this double-speak. Paul Simon he ain’t.

    Obama is quickly demonstrating lack of foresight and leadership inadequacies as the criminally charged Blago controls the message and pulls the press in whatever direction Blago wants. One has to wonder what the Blago has on the Obama.

    White folk were starting to feel pretty good about themselves for electing the 1st black President but have pretty much had these thoughts stuffed up their u-know-what by the black community because they reject the way Burris was chosen. Basically, it’s a what have you done for me lately scenario or a no good deed goes unpunished.

    Roland Burris’s claim that his selection was touched by the hand of God may be accurate, however, it would be similar to the way God used the Assyrians to punish Israel for not following his word. Another words, God uses the unjust to punish his people when they do wrong. Like say for electing Blago for the 2nd time.

    Finally, Blago seems to have the anti-midas touch and it will be interstiong to see just how many pols go down just because they worked with or against him.

  19. - Sap - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:41 pm:

    Not weakings, rash. Shot their mouths off before they turned their brains on.

    Special election? Never woulda happened. Rod woulda sat on the bill until middlemarch. Can’t blame the GA for failing to pass a law that would not be signed.

  20. - the Other Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:41 pm:

    The other option for the IL Supreme Court is to decline jurisdiction and send the case to the trial courts. Their original jurisdiction over mandamus actions is optional, not mandatory.

  21. - anon - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:41 pm:

    Am I alone in thinking Illinois is currently so Democrat that before this Burris fiasco came about, no Republican, yes even Mark Kirk, was going to beat ANY Democratic nominee save Blagojevich. I for one was happy that the state was not going to hold an election. Do you think Democratic Leaders just made up the astronomical cost of such an election. The last I heard this afternoon the Stock Market and economy were not doing so well. I say that was money worth not spent. But then again now we have Burris, the Trailblazer?? What to do? What to do?

  22. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:43 pm:

    Why would they cave now? They’ve already taken the heat. Kick it to Rules, the MSM will find another freak show and Roland Burris will be forgotten.

  23. - Belle - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:48 pm:

    Not a drop of ‘testicular fortitude’ in the lot of them.

  24. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:55 pm:

    - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 31, 08 @ 11:18 am:

    Roland Burris is a boring man and as Illinois standards go, pretty clean. But he publically demonstrated a willingness to lie down with dogs in order to add another line to his mausoleum. The quiet guy in the back of the room exposed his ugly side yesterday.

    We know he gave Blagojevich money…

    We go with it and take it to the next level. Roland Burris gets called to testify before the Impeachment Committee. Knowing what we know about Blagojevich on these tapes, Mr. Burris will need to prove a negative. He needs to prove that he wasn’t the top bidder for the senate seat. But the fact disprove him here. Mr. Burris will need to become a star witness next week and he will need to be shown as a less-than-pure Senate appointee.

    By doing this, there will be enough evidence available for the Democratic Congressional Leaders to stall his nomination. They can do this if they have a reason to believe that the nominee is tainted. Burris is tainted enough if the Illinois Democrats wish to cast doubt on this guy. By doing this, they left a lot of people off the hook; Obama, Reid, Durbin, Quinn, White and a whole lot of concerned Democrats will breath a sigh of relief when this is done.

    White can stall the nomination procedurally long enough for the Impeachment Committee to turn Mr. Burris into a less than virginal appointee. After his testimony, Reid and the US Senate Democrats can deny his seating based on his testimony.

    This seems to be happening, doesn’t it?

    If Illinois Democrats want this to end, they need to smear enough taint on Burris tomorrow to call into question his credibility. They’ve got enough, don’t they?

    Just asking the questions could do it. Burris’ firm helped the Governor’s wife to get her lucrative job, right? Burris gave Blagojevich plenty of money, right? Considering how low the bar is set here and how popular Blagojevich is across Illinois and the country, how much can it take to call Burris into question?

    If the GOP wants Burris in office so that they can defeat him in 2010, they need to clam up tomorrow and let him get off, so that Reid, Durbin and the rest of these spineless cowards can pretend they give a fig. It will be up to Illinois Democrats tomorrow to sink Burris.

  25. - Cynic - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:56 pm:

    True Observer -

    I wouldn’t be so sure about Burris being seen as an elder statesman. I generally vote Dem, but unless the Republicans bring back Alan Keyes, I cannot see myself voting for Burris. Heck, even if they do bring back Keyes (yeah, I know they won’t) I’d give him a second glance.

    Burris getting seated means Mark Kirk wins the seat in 2010.

  26. - anon - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 2:58 pm:

    Mr Secretary,

    Thank you! Please run for re-election!! I will vote for you next time. This Burris appointment just stinks and really bothers me.

  27. - central il dem - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 3:01 pm:

    “You wonder how far they’ll go for the guy.”

    Gee, Rich. It’s called interpreting the law. The response to Madigan was an appropriate legal response in light of the purpose and meaning of the language to which she referred in that action.

    And in this situation, the proper legal approach will likely result in a different outcome. Not because of politics, but because of the proper interpretation of the law itself.

  28. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 3:03 pm:

    Burris should avoid testifying tomorrow. The long knives may be out for him.

  29. - G - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 3:05 pm:


  30. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 3:07 pm:


    If the intent was to not seat Burris, the actions of late yesterday and today would never have happened. Come on now, Reid and Durbin with a Burris photo-op? How many more flip flops can be done here to destroy credibility any more?

  31. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 3:17 pm:

    Their hands are clean now, aren’t they?

  32. - Bakersfield - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 3:45 pm:

    Riiiiiiiiiight. I have a feeling the next edition of “Profiles in Courage” will not include a chapter on Burris (or Reid and Durbin for that matter).

    I am personally looking forward to Obama coming to campaign for Burris in 16 months and seeing if the press dares to ask “Why are you campaigning for someone you said should not be a Senator in the first place?”

  33. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 4:00 pm:

    Just refuse to seat him on grounds that his appointment from a Gov who has been arrested for trying to sell that very seat violates public policy and be done with it. Alternatively they could argue estoppel or unlcean hands.

  34. - Blago Sphere - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 4:02 pm:

    I just awoke to see what I have been missing all day, and I can’t say that I am at all surprised. I also just tuned in only to discover that Fritchey looks like he’s dressed to cabareting ion Rush St. Would it had been to much for him to have put a suit and tie for this government session?

  35. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 4:04 pm:

    I just saw Burris on TV relating with great pride and relish a congratulatory call he got today from Jimmy Carter.

    Roland Burris. Jimmy Carter. Is it 2009 yet?

  36. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 4:20 pm:


    I am not sure, but I know I can’t fit into my leisure suit any more.

  37. - Stormy - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 4:46 pm:

    I’d hate to be in a trench with Reid and Durbin. How does it feel, Jesse?

  38. - Blue in DuPage - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 5:31 pm:

    Maybe Sen. Reid can tell Blago, “Resign and I’ll seat Burris. Stay in office and Burris stays out of the Senate. Your move.”

  39. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 5:42 pm:


    Blago will not resign, and Burris will be seated. They (the US Senate) are just making Burris play a little game for show now, with the (very)slight chance that Burris will somehow do something egregiously wrong or a recent skeleton come to light to give them ammunition to stall more. Look for things to suddenly get real quiet, and somewhat quietly the Senator goes in.

  40. - Suburban Republican - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 5:42 pm:

    I have never in my life been more proud to not be a Democrat.

    The political makeup of the Land of Lincoln is going to wind up looking pretty different after next November.

    Especially since Democrats have now given Blagojevich the motivation to do whatever he is legally able to do, including I suppose never allowing the State Senate to be called into session so that he avoids an impeachment trial.

    Let’s also not forget that Barack Obama should have been able to and perhaps could have been able to stop all this, either by doing the right thing and making it clear that a special election needed to be called, or imploring Roland Burris to drop out of this fiasco.

    Democrat leaders from Springfield to Washington D.C. let Rod Blagojevich make them all look like fools.

  41. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 5:45 pm:

    Did anyone notice the Congressional Black Caucus’ unanimous resolution of support for Burris’ seating? Even though this is not about race, someone tell me he won’t be seated now.

  42. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 7:01 pm:

    Looks like Burris and Blago rolled Obama, Reid and Durbin. Amazing.

    This is bad. If you draw a line in the sand, you better back it up, or you’re inviting a lot of trouble.

  43. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 7:12 pm:

    Jesse White got thrown under the bus.

    Daily Show is a must-see TV today. Stewart on Blago and Roland is hilarious.

  44. - Suburban Republican - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 7:17 pm:

    According to what was just reported on MSNBC, Obama called Reid two days ago, told him to find an amicable solution to the Burris problem and vouched for Burris as a “fine public servant.”

    So, perhaps all those in this state who are rightfully disgusted by all this and realize that no Blagojevich appointee should be allowed to serve, need to realize that Obama himself apparently flip-flopped and worked to grease the skids to get Burris seated.

  45. - Suburban Republican - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 7:24 pm:

    Obama to Reid: Fix it

    And we are seeing now today how they are trying to “fix it.”

    Rich may have more to be surprised about in this saga than he first realized.

  46. - anon - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 10:00 pm:

    Jesse you now officially have been Blagoed and Reided! Nice to see some elected official with a spine.

  47. - Blago Sphere - Wednesday, Jan 7, 09 @ 10:26 pm:

    Burris also filed:

    A COMPLAINT FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS; citing violations of both the Illinois and U.S. Constitution’s on the part of White:

    As well as a motion filed for leave to submit an Amicus Curiae brief in support of Burris by the Cook County Bar Association:

  48. - Bobs yer - Thursday, Jan 8, 09 @ 7:53 am:

    nice cave, Harry. Principle didn’t last too long in the new administration, did it.

    By the way, run out and get some signs for the entrances to Washington. Should read: “This District Ain’t Ready for Reform”.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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