There’s no doubt that Barack Obama was one of the brighter member of the Senate, but is it possible he took all the brains with him when he resigned? On the bases of rumors that Rod Blagojevich, the regrettable governor of Illinois, was about to name a replacement for Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid yesterday morning announced that anyone that Blago appointed would not be seated. Blago then held a press conference to announce that he was appointing Roland Burris to the seat. Obama was the only black in the Senate, now Burris will be. And there isn’t thing one that the Senate can legally or logically do about it.
The Constitution says, “each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own members.” Fine, but that’s nothing more than the opportunity for Reid et. al. to demonstrate their foolishness. The qualifications of a Senator are set by the Constitution, and Burris meets them. He’s 71 years old, so he passes the age test. He’s been a prominent public figure in Illinois politics for three decades, he shouldn’t have much problem proving he’s a legal resident of that state. His citizenship isn’t likely to represent any problems. And he was appointed by the governor of Illinois to the position.
Congress doesn’t choose its own members, the states do. In Illinois, the governor has sole power to appoint someone to fill a vacancy. Harry Reid doesn’t have to like it, in fact almost nobody does, but Blago is the governor of Illinois. If there was any doubt, efforts to impeach him would not currently be underway.
About the only thing the Senate Democratic leadership can do is investigate whether Illinois law really gives the governor the power to fill this seat. To really slow things down, they could delegate one of their members to travel to Springfield and review the laws there, directing that member to travel on horseback and to report back in person. I don’t think even the House leadership is that stupid.
What’s truly stunning is the New York Times today is carrying an editorial supporting Reid’s position.