- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Disputed Senate appointee Roland W. Burris‘ quest to be seated in the chamber Monday ended abruptly in the Secretary of the Senate’s office, where his credentials were rejected. He beat a quick retreat rather than inflame controversy on the first day of the 111th Congress.

“I am not seeking to have any type of confrontation,” Mr. Burris of Illinois told a crush of reporters who followed him into the rain as he left the Capitol. “I will now consult with my attorneys, and we will determine what our next step will be.”

He said he was prepared to keep fighting for the Senate seat — in court if necessary.

Mr. Burris, whose appointment is embattled because it came from scandal-plagued Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, remained defiant that his appointment was constitutional. He has insisted that Mr. Blagojevich’s official actions are still binding for appointments the same as bills he has signed into law.

He came within a few feet of the Senate chamber Monday as new members were preparing to be sworn in but was denied entry to the floor.

He advanced to the secretary of the Senate’s office, just steps away from the gallery overlooking the chamber, before his paperwork was rejected because it was not signed by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who refused to do so due to the scandal surrounding the governor. His signature is legally required but is almost always a pro forma move.

“I presented my credentials to the secretary of the Senate and advised that my credentials were not in order, and I would not be accepted, and I will not be seated, and I will not be permitted on the floor,” Mr. Burris said.

Mr. Burris’ three attorneys, who accompanied him to the Capitol, said they were considering legal action to force Senate leaders to accept the new junior senator from Illinois.

“Number one, our option is to file in a district court,” said Timothy W. Wright III, a Chicago lawyer. “Our option is to seek to continue to deliberate with the Senate leadership and perhaps get them to reverse themselves. I think there are several options that we’re accorded.”

The other attorneys were former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke, a law professor at Howard University, and William Jeffress.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to seat Mr. Burris because of the cloud of corruption surrounding Mr. Blagojevich, who was arrested on federal charges for trying to sell that same Senate seat, which was vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

The Illinois legislature is expected to finish impeachment proceedings against Mr. Blagojevich as soon as this week, but it is unclear how the action would affect the governor’s appointment of Mr. Burris.

Mr. Burris, a former Illinois attorney general and longtime political player in Illinois, is not implicated in the Blagojevich “pay-to-play” saga, but critics of the appointment say he is nonetheless tainted by the scandal.

He is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Mr. Reid to discuss his claim on the Senate seat.

Democrats are under increasing pressure from liberal activists to accept Mr. Burris, who is black and would succeed Mr. Obama as the only black member of the Senate.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide