Tomorrow the newly elected and re-elected members of Congress will be sworn in and seated. All kinds of crazy has revolved around the vacant seat in the Senate for Illinois. The best part? Roland Burris appears to have an even bigger ego than Gov. Blago.
Burris intends to appear at the door of the Senate to be allowed on the floor to be sworn in as the Junior Senator from Illinois. His loudest cheerleader is Bobby Rush, former Black Panther, now longtime member of the House of Representatives from the south side of Chicago.
Reid claims some backing from legal precedent in his decision not to seat Burris. In 1969, Adam Clayton Powell was re-elected to his Congressional seat but was under a cloud of corruption accusations. House Democrats refused to seat him. Powell sued and prevailed. The Supreme Court ruled "that Congress had acted unconstitutionally in denying him his seat. Congress could have expelled Powell with a two-thirds vote, as stipulated in the Constitution, but it couldn't deny him the seat in the first instance." That from The Wall Street Journal.
So, the power the Senate would have is to seat Burris then to unseat him with a vote. Reid is a lawyer, a self-described "old trial lawyer", so you'd think he'd be familiar with what he is claiming. But, no one ever said the guy is smart. Just as when he declared the war in Iraq as lost on the Senate floor last April. He has no credibility.
Rep. Bobby Rush entered the fray last week and threw the race card for good measure. He taunted the Senate leadership by saying that they would not want to be responsible for not seating a black man in a seat abandoned by another black man. And, there would be no blacks in the Senate if that happened.
Burris argues that he is not under any suspicions of corrupt activity and should not be denied the seat in the Senate just because the Illinois governor appointed him. He has a point. It should also be noted that though Gov. Blago was arrested and hauled off to jail, now out on bond, he hasn't been indicted or impeached. He's still the sitting governor and his Illinois legislature hasn't acted to stop him from appointing a replacement.
There is no avenue for sympathy here for the Senate Democrats. Or for the Democrats in Illinois. A special election was rightly called for when Obama was elected to the presidency and even Obama called for a special election. Then all hell broke loose with the governor and the real possibility of a Republican being elected as Senator was apparent. Next it was deemed just too expensive of an option to have a special election. So, this is where they are and karma kicks them in the butt.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and he is supporting Roland Burris. Cornyn notes that Reid called Gov. Blago and is trying to deny the people of Illinois their second senator as a voice. The Chicago Sun-Times printed a story that Reid demanded Gov. Blago not appoint Jesse Jackson, Jr., Rep. Danny Davis, or recently retired Illinois State Senate ldr Emil Jones - an Obama mentor - to the job. All black men, these three, and Reid recommended two white women instead. One, Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq war veteran and the other, Lisa Morale the current Illinois Attorney General and daughter of the Illinois House leader. So, if Reid was a Republican do you think all of that would have been an issue? The headlines would have been screaming that Reid is a racist. Reid claimed the three black politicians would not be elected when the term expires in 2010 and wants to keep the seat in Democrat hands.
"The people of Illinois deserve a simple explanation from Senator Reid: Why does he believe these three Illinois officeholders are 'unelectable' to the U.S. Senate?" Cornyn added. That from Politico.