We all kind of watched agape yesterday as Rod Blagojevich plowed ahead with his selection of Roland Burris to Obama's Senate seat yesterday, assuming that better sense would prevail eventually.
But perhaps not, according to Sam Stein:
Rod Blagojevich's decision to appoint Roland Burris to Illinois' vacant Senate seat, even as the governor faces intense criminal scrutiny, is being treated as a crazy political power grab. It also seems very likely to be permanent.
A legal scholar writes in to say that precedent surrounding the Senate's right to not seat certain members seems very likely to fall in Burris' favor.
"My reading of Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, is that the Senate probably can NOT constitutionally block Burris from being seated," writes the constitutional law professor. "Art. I, sec. 5 gives each House the power to judge the qualifications of its own members. Powell holds (inter alia) that the qualifications to be judged are those stated in the Constitution (see Art. I, sec. 3, cl. 3 and the 17th Amendment)."
"Burris has met all of those qualifications: he's over 30, been a US citizen for 9 years, he's an Illinois resident; he was appointed by the executive authority of the state to fill a vacancy, pursuant to Illinois law."
Even on the state level, Democrats seem fairly hamstrung when it comes to stopping Blagojevich. Secretary of State Jesse White's office has said it will not certify the Burris appointment. But, here again, the law may not be on their side.