Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blagojevich to Fill Senate Seat with Burris

So Blagojevich is set to appoint Roland Burris to the Senate to fill Obama's seat. This is expected in about 90 minutes. Apparently he is an African-American and was formerly attorney general for Illinois. This is a very crass political move to appoint an African-American in the hopes that the Senate won't dare refuse to seat him. He would be the only African-American in the Senate. We will see what the Senate does. The senate has said it would not seat Blagojevich's appointment. If other Dems in Illinois approve of him, this may put an end to that issue.

I think Blagojevich would have done far better to have announced that he would appoint whomever the legislature selected.


USWest said...

Obama has said that the Senate should not seat him. Obama's said he was a "fine selection", but that the senate should not agree to seat Burris.

Raised By Republicans said...

It's as if he thinks that if he appoints someone the Senate can't reject - his legal problems will go away.

And by picking the only African American candidate for the job who hasn't distanced themselves from him, he's reprising McCain's cynical Sarah Palin pick.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The Democrats need all the votes in the Senate they can get. They should have 59 (with Franken and Lieberman). Instead, there are just 57. Worse, three of them: Salazar, Biden, and Clinton, are going to resign but have not yet done so. Only one (Biden-DE) has any replacement ready. so the Democrats effectively have just 55 senators ready. This is looking like a slow start.

USWest said...

I very much dislike the idea that you have to have an "African-American" senate seat.

I was hoping Obama would be more 'post race'. That is how he played it. And yet, it is emboldening the old guard to start insisting of "African American" this and that. Look, whites voted for Obama. He is not the African American president, he is our President.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Why not seat Burris? As far as I can tell, had Burris been appointed by any other method, the Democrats would welcome him as a "fine selection." So the Senate should quietly accept Burris as the temporary seat-filler from Illinois and get on with the business of the nation.

Let's not allow ourselves to get distracted here. This scandal has nothing to do with Burris--it is entirely about Blagojevich's previous attempts to auction off the Senate seat (among other serious allegations of bribery and misconduct).

Raised By Republicans said...

US West, why are you blaming Obama for this pick? He's on record opposing Blagojevich's pick regardless of who it is. The choice of an African American was Blagojevich's and I suspect he was trying to get Obama to flip flop on his opposition to a Blagojevich appointment. Here is what Obama has said about the Burris appointment in particular:

"Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat. I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it. I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place. While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy."

This despite the fact that Obama supported Burris against Blagojevich in the primary that nominated Blagojevich. In retrospect, Burris would have been a better choice regardless of the racial issue.

And besides, as Dr S implies, aside from the fact that Blagojevich made the appointment under a cloud, Burris is otherwise qualified. He's currently the Attny. General of Illinois (an elected position in that state) and he has lost primaries for Senate, Mayor of Chicago and Governor to Paul Simon, Richard M. Daley and Rod Blagojevich. And he's old enough (72) to be unlikely to be seen as locking out ambitious candidates who may be more serious in the long run. Under normal circumstances, he's just the kind of person you would want to be appointed as a temporary Senator.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The constitution says that the Senate (each house) shall be the judge of the elections and qualifications of its own members. But the Supreme Court has ruled at least once that this is limited to making a decision about the outcome of an election or the constitutional qualifications. Burris is duly appointed by a sitting governor. He is in excess of 30 years old and has been a US citizen for at least nine years. Unless the Senate makes a determination that he fails to meet any of these qualifications, I do not think it is constitutional to refuse to seat him. Other than this clause, the constitution guarantees that "no state shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate without its consent." For those interested in trivia, this is one of the two unamendable provisions of the US constitution, and the only one remaining in effect (The other is that no law affecting the slave trade be made prior to 1808).

The more interesting question is whether the Rules Committee can tie up the seat for long enough for Blagojevich to be impeached and for the new gov, Pat Quinn, to make his own appointment for the vacant seat, not yet declared "filled" by the Senate. Then the Senate may choose between dueling appointees, probably without much difficulty. It is to be recalled that the 17th amendment requires that writs of election be issued (special elections) to fill vacancies in the Senate. The power of appointment is from the third sentence of that amendment that says that the state legislature "may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct." So the legislature can also set a special election on short notice and get Burris out of there.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Article V concludes with the exceptions that, "no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate."

So just to be nitpicky, unless I'm reading it wrong, it seems there were three exceptions originally. Before 1808, no amendment could change the status of slavery (Clause 1: "The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.") And neither could any amendment change the basis for taxation. (Clause 4:
No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.)

Of course these two are now dead and only the equal suffrage of the Senate remains unamendable by the usual process. (That could be amended, but would require the consent of all affected states.)

USwest said...

RBR, you wrote a whole post based on a misunderstanding. I wasn't blaming Obama. Never intended to. I even pointed out in my very first post of this thread that he opposed seating Burris. In other words, he doesn't see any reason why a black guy in his old seat should be some sort of sacred cow.

We started out saying that Blagojevich picked Burris because he thought the guy would be impossible to refuse in part because of his race. Burris black under a black president in a "black moment". That's crap. This leads me to another line of thought.

The African American community, who in their enthusiasm for having a (half) African American president, has forgotten that Obama isn't just "their" president. And this doesn't mean now that every other post in government will or should be handed to someone who is black. Obama has made this a point since the beginning. He picks the best regardless of gender or race.

I understand the natural tendency in the African American community to feel as they do. But I fear that the African American community may take what was a "post-race" election and turn it into yet another race issue. That won't be Obama's fault.

I agree that African Americans are underrepresented, just like all sorts of other groups. And I think they have this idea that a (half) black president will favor black nominees, just as women think a female will favor other women.

My feeling is that the there was a misplaced sense of entitlement on the part of the African American community in Illinois to the seat. That was my point.

USwest said...

BTW I reread my post, I can see where that sounds misleading. Poor wording on my part!

Raised By Republicans said...

"RBR, you wrote a whole post based on a misunderstanding"

Wouldn't be the first time.

"BTW I reread my post, I can see where that sounds misleading. Poor wording on my part!"

No worries.

The Law Talking Guy said...

As long as we're having two conversations at once...

The prohibition that Dr.S identifies as a "third" is usually not regarded as such because it is so intimately linked with the slave trade and slavery. The purpose was to make sure that no direct per-capita tax was laid on states without observing the rule that slaves were only 3/5 of a person for such purposes. This provision could not be changed until 1808. The idea that this clause was meant to bar the personal income tax is historically incorrect, or very unlikely; it was held, however, to bar a personal income tax later, prompting the need for the 16th amendment. Of course, we have managed to discuss now the 17th and 16th amendments in the same post, which is rare when the subject is not progressivism.