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This just in… Supreme Court rejects Burris case - Gives Burris alternative route

Friday, Jan 9, 2009

* 4:09 pm - AP…

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said the Senate won’t seat Roland Burris without the signature of Ill. Secretary of State Jesse White

Fox

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was banking on the Illinois court to resolve the matter after turning away Burris earlier in the week because his paperwork was not signed.

But White says he still won’t sign the document, since the court didn’t force him. And Democratic leaders on Friday maintained that Burris still cannot take President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat without White’s signature.

“Mr. Burris is exactly where he was a week ago,” a senior Democratic aide told FOX News. “He does not have a valid certificate, and we cannot seat him.” […]

But White told several Democratic officials Friday that he will not sign the appointment, maintaining his position that he wouldn’t certify any Blagojevich appointment in the wake of the governor’s federal corruption arrest unless the court forced him.

Oy.

* 1:57 pm - CNN

Senate Democratic leaders are weighing their options in light of the Illinois State Supreme Court decision that Roland Burris’s certificate of appointment does not require the secretary of state’s signature.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Illinois senior Sen. Dick Durbin had been very clear that their path to seating Burris began with the signature of Secretary of State Jesse White, citing a Senate rule from 1884 that seems to require it. The court ruled Friday afternoon that no such signature was required.

* Politico

The court ruling leaves Burris in a new state of limbo, just two days after his seating in the Senate seemed imminent. But Burris, in a Friday afternoon statement, portrayed the ruling as a victory.

“I am very happy that the Supreme Court ruled supporting our argument that everything surrounding this appointment was legal and complete,” Burris said in a statement. “This appointment meets the qualifications required by the U.S. Senate of all gubernatorial appointees to fill vacated seats.”

Democratic leaders have refused to allow Burris – the 71-year-old former state attorney general – to serve because they said Senate rules require all appointees to have a signature from the secretary of state and the governor on their certification papers.

Burris believes the ruling helps him pass the test established by Democratic leaders.

“I am confident I have cooperated with all the requests of the U. S. Senate and I expect they will validate my credentials and seat me in a timely manner,” Burris said.

* 1:44 pm - From Attorney General Lisa Madigan…

It is clear that Secretary White is not the roadblock to Mr. Burris’s appointment to the U.S. Senate.

It remains within the power of the U.S. Senate to seat Mr. Burris. They should do so immediately.

* 1:43 pm - Here’s the alternative route suggested by the Supremes

There is one final point we feel constrained to mention. While the Secretary of State has no duty under Illinois law to sign and affix the state seal to the certificate of appointment issued by the Governor, he does have a duty under section 5(4) of the Secretary of State Act (15 ILCS 305/5(4) (West 2006))

“to give any person requiring the same paying the lawful fees therefor, a copy of any law, act, resolution, record or paper in his office, and attach thereto his certificate, under the seal of the state.”

The registration of the appointment of Mr. Burris made by the Secretary of State is a “record or paper” within the meaning of this statute. A copy of it is available from the Secretary of State to anyone who requests it. For payment of the normal fee charged by the Secretary of State in accordance with this statute, Petitioners could obtain a certified copy bearing the state’s seal. Because such relief is possible, no order by this court is necessary or appropriate. [emphasis added]

* 1:37 pm - AP

The Illinois Supreme Court says Secretary of State Jesse White doesn’t need to sign Roland Burris’ appointment to the U.S. Senate to make it valid.

The ruling says no Illinois official has to do anything further to validate the appointment made by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

* 1:32 pm - Crain’s looks on the bright side

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that Roland Burris can take his seat in the U.S. Senate without further action by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

In an action which may remove the last legal or political impediment to Mr. Burris becoming senator, the seven justices on Friday unanimously ruled that Mr. White does not have to sign a certificate attesting to the appointment of Mr. Burris by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

”No further action is required by any officer of this state to make that appointment valid,” the court ruled. “We further hold that the only ministerial act required of the Secretary of State in this case is that he register the appointment.”

Mr. White already had done so, but had refused to sign a certificate delivered to the Senate, saying Mr. Blagojevich should not have appointed anyone to a seat he is accused of attempting to sell.

* 12:52 pm - The Illinois Supreme Court has just rejected Senator-Designate Roland Burris’ motion to force Secretary of State Jesse White to co-sign Burris’ appointment form…

Because the Secretary of State had no duty under section 5(1) of the Secretary of State Act (15 ILCS 305/5(1) (West 2006)) to sign and affix the state seal to the document issued by the Governor appointing Roland Burris to the United States Senate, Petitioners are not entitled to an order from this court requiring the Secretary to perform those Acts. Under the Secretary of State Act, the Secretary’s sole responsibility was to register the appointment (15 ILCS 305/5(2) (West 2006)), which he did. No further action is required by the Secretary of State or any other official to make the Governor’s appointment of Roland Burris to the United States Senate valid under Illinois law. Moreover, to the extent that additional proof of the validity of the appointment is necessary, Illinois law provides a mechanism for obtaining it without the need for judicial intervention.

For the foregoing reasons, petitioners’ request for issuance of a writ of mandamus is denied. Mandate to issue forthwith.

The ball is now in US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s, um, court. Reid has said that the rule requiring the secretary of state to co-sign has never been waived in the history of the Senate. So, he’ll have to back off that as well if Burris is to be seated.

Reid said this week that the full Senate might vote on whether to seat Burris.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

32 Comments
  1. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:01 pm:

    WOW! And who could have predicted something like this?


  2. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    If this goes to a Senate vote, it will be fun to watch all the Republican Senators suddenly become huge Burris supporters.


  3. - carbon deforestation - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    White is probably annoyed. He was hoping they would force him to do it.

    He has completely gone spineless. If he really meant what he said he would have gone into court and stated that he can’t as SOS honestly certify an appointment that may be corrupt or full of “taint”. Instead, all week he has been whining about how Reid threw him under the bus and that he thinks Burris should be seated, but he’s going to keep his word.

    So man up Jesse. Keep your word. Don’t certify the appointment. Reid and the SDEMS should wait 3 more weeks then Quinn can appoint another more qualified African American to the Senate who won’t be tainted by the Blagster!


  4. - The Doc - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:10 pm:

    This won’t change much of anything. Reid will simply put it up for a vote in the Senate, and the fear of being branded a racist will result in an overwhelming majority voting in favor of seating Burris.

    Reid gets cover from the other senators, Burris gets more etchings on his grave, and IL residents get a ne’er-do-well egomaniac with little chance of making a difference.

    As usual, the citizens of IL lose.


  5. - Bill - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:12 pm:

    White should “change his mind” and sign the stupid form. This issue needs to disappear. Maybe Reid and Durbin could convince White to do the right thing.


  6. - John Bambenek - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:13 pm:

    In so far as the Senate Rule gives the Secretary of State veto power over a Senate appointment by the governor, it’s unconstitutional then. Having a certified copy of the appointment, fine. But a rule that could be used to allow a veto power unspecified in the US Constitution is not legit. Off to federal district court I guess.


  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:13 pm:

    Who woke up The Supremes?

    Jesse did his bit. Everyone else was spineless.


  8. - Toni H. - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:13 pm:

    Jesse White has proved he is the only one in this whole mess that knows what he is talking about. I’m glad he stuck by his word.


  9. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:15 pm:

    The opinion while denying Madamus actually provides the graceful exit for all; in that Burris can actually get a signed and sealed copy from White which the Supremes contend he IS required by law to provide, if Burris requsts and pays for it.


  10. - Segatari - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:17 pm:

    The Republicans will vote him in for this reason and this reason alone: To hang the albertross around the Dems necks.


  11. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    There is one final point we feel constrained to mention. While the Secretary of State has no duty under Illinois law to sign and affix the
    state seal to the certificate of appointment issued by the Governor, he does have a duty under section 5(4) of the Secretary of State Act (15
    ILCS 305/5(4) (West 2006))
    “to give any person requiring the same paying the lawful fees therefor, a copy of any law, act, resolution, record or paper in his office, and attach thereto his certificate, under the seal of
    the state.”

    The registration of the appointment of Mr. Burris made by the Secretary of State is a “record or paper” within the meaning of this statute.

    A copy of it is available from the Secretary of State to anyone who requests it. For payment of the normal fee charged by the Secretary of State in accordance with this statute, Petitioners could
    obtain a certified copy bearing the state’s seal. Because such relief is possible, no order by this court is necessary or appropriate. See
    People ex rel. Devine v. Stralka, 226 Ill. 2d 445, 450 (2007) (for mandamus to issue, the petitioner must be without any other adequate remedy).


  12. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:19 pm:

    The Senate is more than welcome to change their rules if they so desire.

    Stay strong Jesse, do the right thing and be the only one in the whole thing who keeps their word.


  13. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:20 pm:

    Sorry; typing too fast; seal but no signature required.


  14. - Independent - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:21 pm:

    I hope Reid (and Durbin) come out of this with a generous helping of egg on their faces. Something tells me they’ll skate by.


  15. - Excessively rabid - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:24 pm:

    Now that Rod has been impeached, it would make sense for the US Senate to hold this matter in abeyance pending the outcome of the trial in the Illinois Senate. Then: both houses of the Illinois legislature pass, and the new gov immediately signs, legislation vacating the appointment. I dare the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn it. Presumably a new person, or even the same one, would be appointed by the new gov, although I would rather see a special election to dispel the stench. Burris could run and we could see if the people of Illinois really want him as their senator. A large majority wanted Blago as governor, so who knows?


  16. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:25 pm:

    Roland; click the heels of your ruby red slippers together three times; and repeat after me:

    “There’s no place like home, There’s no place like home, There’s no place like home”


  17. - Nikki - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:31 pm:

    Read page nine of the Supreme Opinion. It basically tells Burris how to get a copy of his appointment with the seal…..to take to the Senate.


  18. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:31 pm:

    Jesse can certify (by signature) the copy; but not sign the copy of the original Certificate. The U.S. Senate can accpet the certified copy; in lieu of the original, and they will have both the Governor’s and the Secretary of States signatures and the seal; albeit not in strict conformance with their rules.


  19. - anon - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:38 pm:

    ===Now that Rod has been impeached, it would make sense for the US Senate to hold this matter in abeyance pending the outcome of the trial in the Illinois Senate. Then: both houses of the Illinois legislature pass, and the new gov immediately signs, legislation vacating the appointment. I dare the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn it. ===

    The Supremes just said the appointment was legal and valid under state law. Thus, it seems as far as their concerned it’s a done deal. If they wanted to base their opinions on public opinion rather than the law, as you suggest they would do, they would’ve done so with AG Madigan’s motion to remove Blago. They’re out of it as of today, and under state law Burris is our junior senator.


  20. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:43 pm:

    Jesse is going to certify the copy of the appointment Certificate as that of being the original, without signing the original itself, thus keeping his word as never having signed and sealed the appointment itself.


  21. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:45 pm:

    ==The Supremes just said the appointment was legal and valid under state law. Thus, it seems as far as their concerned it’s a done deal. If they wanted to base their opinions on public opinion rather than the law, as you suggest they would do, they would’ve done so with AG Madigan’s motion to remove Blago. They’re out of it as of today, and under state law Burris is our junior senator.==

    But the US Senate says they will not seat because of the SOS signature RULE (note it isn’t a law), it seems to me the court failed to give Burris the relief he was looking for.

    So what do we have

    The Senate has a rule that they will not seat without the SOS signature (not seal) and the SOS will not sign and the highest court in the states says they can’t compel him to do so.

    So either the senate changes their rule or no Senator Burris.

    The White/Reid paradox


  22. - zatoichi - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:48 pm:

    Just let Burris in and move along. Without the impeachment this would be nothing. Stop the side show act and get back to the economy, Middle East, and jobs. Let everyone who wants to play the race card feel they won. No gain, no loss. What can Burris do in 2 years? Destroy the government? Do all the deep analysis of all the possible angles you want and what do you have? A guy who, as a rookie who did not earn his spot through a real election, will be tolerated and put on inconsequential committees for two years. He is an OK guy doing the time by stepping up or paying an IOU. He may be a good solution. If he can make something out of this by doing a great job, good for him. The election cycle starts in a year. If someone else feels they are better, step up and go for it.


  23. - anon - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:49 pm:

    ==So what do we have==

    Since it’s now a valid appointment under State law, if the Senate continues to deny him a seat we’ll probably have a federal lawsuit.


  24. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 1:57 pm:

    Could the senate GOP stop a senate rule change?


  25. - 60657 - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 2:14 pm:

    ====Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Illinois senior Sen. Dick Durbin had been very clear that their path to seating Burris began with the signature of Secretary of State Jesse White, citing a Senate rule from 1884 that seems to require it. The court ruled Friday afternoon that no such signature was required.====

    WRONG, CNN. The court didn’t hold that the signature wasn’t required to satisfy the Senate rule, only that it wasn’t required to effectuate the appointment under state law.


  26. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 4:18 pm:

    {Could the senate GOP stop a senate rule change? }

    One Man,

    I think Reid’s Plan is to have Feinstein move a Burris Appointment out of Committee and onto the floor for a vote.

    Then Reid will utilize a structured roll call in order; including abstentions (and MIA’s), to have it result in a tie. Cheney will then have to vote to break the tie, and they will blame whatever results on him.


  27. - this voter will remember - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 4:47 pm:

    Hold your ground Jesse White. Roland only wants this position to satisfy his oversized ego. He wants/needs additional etchings to go on his huge mausoleum. The majority of the people of Illinois do not want you Roland Burris - Special Election please.


  28. Pingback You want defiant? Durbin suddenly gives us defiant (maybe) « Illinois Reason - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 6:08 pm:

    […] He apparently was reacting to news that the state Supreme Court denied Blagojevich appointee Roland Burris’ motion to force Sec. White to sign off on his appointment to the US Senate. […]


  29. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 6:33 pm:

    This Just In

    WOW again; now who could have predicted this:

    Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, in an unexpected move, has signed a certificate saying that Roland Burris’ appointment document is “true and accurate.”

    Burris’ attorneys are expected to argue that this certificate would cover the Senate rule requiring White’s signature on all appointment papers, but it’s unclear yet whether Democrats will accept the argument.

    It could give Democrats a way out of a sticky situation.


  30. - exoffender - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 7:36 pm:

    The statehouse republicans didn’t go after burris yesterday because they want to see him in the senate. He will win the dem primary and then be easy pickings in the general — their best route to taking the seat.


  31. - Blago Sphere - Friday, Jan 9, 09 @ 8:28 pm:

    Rich;

    You should confirm this part of the story from The Hill.com
    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/burris-claims-senate-victory-but-obstacles-remain-2009-01-09.html

    {Blagojevich aides asked White’s office on Friday to co-sign a second statement that authenticates the first, which White did.}

    Is Jesse White responding to requests from BLAGOJEVICH aides relative to advancing this appointment, or did The Hill mean to say BURRIS aides?

    Unless they are referring to the “certified copy” issue referenced in the Supreme Court opinion, then if he is helping BLAGOJEVICH aides advance the appointment through this latest effort, then Jesse White has not actually complied with this “spirit” of his expressed reasoning of his refusal to sign on to the appointment. Doing the bidding of BLAGOJEVICH aides in this process will not further endear him to Dick Durbin or Obama in this saga either.

    {”We think we have complied with whatever they’ve asked us to do, and we’ve come back with what they required,” Burris attorney Timothy Wright III said in an early-evening conference call. “If they continue to not accept this, I believe we will make a decision to file suit in federal court. Anyone who looks at this has to conclude that we’ve complied.”}

    {Reid spokesman Jim Manley issued this statement in response: “The Senate Parliamentarian, the Secretary of the Senate and Senate Legal Counsel are advising Senate Leadership as we consider a way forward.”}

    Consider a way forward? In the immortal words of the great Mike Ditka- who you crappin?

    They are advising Senate Leadership as they look for an escape hatch from this self imposed Pandora’s Box.

    {Wright left little doubt that Burris would file a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, which would almost certainly take months to resolve.

    Blagojevich was impeached Friday and Senate leaders expect he will be removed from office by Illinois state lawmakers within weeks — long before the resolution of the lawsuit —

    >

    The Illinois Supreme Court has already ruled that Blagojevich’s appointment of Burris is a “fully legal appointment”, and as a consequence there is no vacancy for Quinn to fill.


  32. - anon - Saturday, Jan 10, 09 @ 8:37 am:

    Great job Jesse and Lisa Madigan. You held your ground. I am sure more will come out about Burris. We shall see. However, why should Illinois do the dirty work. JW held his ground and kept his word. JW, like many of us, feel this is a tainted appointment. Let Dick Durbin and Harry Reid welcome Burris with open arms. They certainly seemed to like him a couple of days ago in their joint news conference. It looks like the President probably has already told them to let Burris hang out to dry. Durbin and Reid would never had said yesterday after the ruling that they still needed certification after this court ruling without getting the go ahead from Pres. Elect Obama. And…let’s face it…Can you imagine what Obama must really be thinking about Burris in accepting this position from a tainted governor just days before being inaugarated. Burris is a goner. Brilliant move by Jesse and Madigan in throwing this back at the US Senate. The argument is…”You take this guy if you like him so much. “We feel it is a tainted appointment and we are not going to dirty our hands on it.”


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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