January 5th, 2009
01:12 PM ET
14 years ago

Secretary of the Senate rejects Burris appointment

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.getty.burris.jpg caption="The Secretary of the Senate rejected Roland Burris' appointment because the Illinois secretary of state did not sign his certificate of appointment."]

(CNN) - The secretary of the U.S. Senate on Monday rejected the certificiate of appointment for Roland Burris, named by Illinois' controversial governor to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat, according to an aide to the secretary.

The aide said Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson rejected Burris' appointment because it does not conform with the Senate rule requiring that the secretary of state - in this case, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White - must sign the certificate of appointment along with the governor.

White has declined to sign the certificate, siding with some Senate Democrats who say Burris should not be seated because of the cloud over Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat.

According to a Democratic source and a Democratic Senate leadership aide, without the signed certificate Burris will be denied access to the Senate floor.

But Burris insists he has the legal right to serve as senator, and has said he will appear at the Senate's door Tuesday.

"I am going (to Washington) to be seated. I am the junior senator from the state of Illinois - that's all I can say," he said Monday at an airport news conference in Chicago before leaving for Washington.

Watch: 'Appointment is legal,' says Burris

He said he is not bothered by controversy surrounding his appointment by Blagojevich because "the appointment is legal. What has been done here is legal."

Pressed by reporters on what he would do if he is refused admission to the Senate floor, Burris said, "If I am turned away, my lawyers will take it from there and we'll see what happens."

He said he has not been contacted by anyone from the Obama team, and he insisted that he is not upset at the situation surrounding his appointment.

Watch Burris today on The Situation Room beginning at 4 pm ET

"I'm not angry with anybody," Burris said. "In fact, I'm enjoying this on behalf of the people of Illinois."

Watch the entire Burris press conference

Senate Democratic leaders have scheduled a meeting with him Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said lawmakers have the legal authority to block Burris' appointment, but Reid has also left open the possibility that Burris could be seated.

Burris said he will meet with Reid on Wednesday.

"I will tell him I'm here to take my seat," he said.

Burris, 71, is one of Illinois' most accomplished African-American politicians.

He maintains that the governor's problems have nothing to do with him, and says he's not concerned about the political cloud hanging over his selection.

"I am the duly appointed, legally appointed United States senator from the state ofIllinois, and I certainly expect that the senators will recognize that and do not deny Illinois its equal representation as we get under way in this 111th Congress," he told CNN on Sunday.

"It is my hope and prayer that they will certainly have gotten the message that what the governor has done regarding his problems, they're not my problems, there's no taint on me, he has carried out his constitutional duty and found a person who was qualified to fill that vacancy, and that's what he's done."

Reid said Sunday that Blagojevich's appointment is "tainted," considering the charges against the governor.

"Blagojevich obviously is a corrupt individual. I think that's pretty clear. And the reason that he's done what he's done is to divert attention from the arrest that was just made of him and the indictments that will be coming in a few days according to the U.S. attorney in Illinois," Reid said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Senate leaders questioning the appointment cite Article 1, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution, which states, "Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members."

Those leaders say the problem is that the pick was made by the potentially tainted governor; the problem isn't Burris himself.

Reid said Blagojevich should step down, and then Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn could name someone - including Burris - to fill Obama's Senate seat.

Asked whether he would refuse to seat Burris should he try to claim a seat in the Senate, Reid responded, "We are going to do what we have to do."

"We're going to follow all legal precedents. ... We're pretty clear on what we believe is the law and the precedent in the United States Senate. ... Democrats and Republicans determine who is going to sit in the Senate," he said.

But Reid left the door open to a possible compromise resolution that might avert a confrontation with Burris and a growing grass-roots effort led by some black politicians and community leaders in Illinois.

Reid said he plans to meet Wednesday with Burris and Illinois' sitting senator, Richard Durbin.

"I'm an old trial lawyer," he told NBC's David Gregory. "There's always room to negotiate."

- CNN's Martina Stewart contributed to this report.

Filed under: Roland Burris
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. sandra kyser

    we must be the laughingstock of the world!!!

    January 5, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Independent

    Shut up and go away!

    January 5, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |

    We will all see who in congress knows what the U S Constitution about Now you will see,,,,. who will scream the loudest because it was done according to the Constitution.

    Folks watch and see how well your representative stands up for you or will he be in the dark not knowing the law.

    The great chosen one will have his way regardless of what the constitution has to say. ask the chosen one about his birth certificate and what is stated in the constitution on this subject

    January 5, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. In Houston, TX

    Knowing that the governor is being charged with corruption, knowing that the Dems (the party in power at the moment) were totally against ANYBODY Blago appointed, WHY oh WHY would you accept the appointment from him?
    This is a legitamate question that should be posed to Burris

    Burris should have known better.

    January 5, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Taa Taa

    Kevin, how much worst can we do than yo' boys just did.????? Be for real dude..

    January 5, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Nola

    The certification was not signed by the Secretary of State (Ilinois) nor was it signed the Senators of (Illinois) – according to the rules/law it must be a signed document – I would think that a former Attorney General would know that and not show up like an a person with no knowledge of what is required.

    Some people will do anything to feed their ego

    January 5, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |

    Good riddance, Burris. You are very much a crook as Blagojevich. Otherwise, you wouldn't have accepted the so-called appointment in the first place.

    January 5, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |

    The evil that men do live after them. So, let it be with you, Burris. Oh, I forgot to mention Blagojevich. Heck. What's the difference between the two of them? All egomaniacs with no brains.

    January 5, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. BJ

    So are you telling me that the Illinois Sec of State carries more juice than the Gov?

    January 5, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. Can't put something on nothing!

    The appointee simply has no honor. Period!

    His appointment is not only TAINTED, it is actually STAINED with corruption.

    I'd never let my father serve himself up for this sort of ridicule – for the sake of power.

    January 5, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. JMc

    There's a lot of talk about Burris being denied this position because he is black. The IL secretary of state who is unwilling to sign the necessary papers for Burris to take the senate seat is black.

    January 5, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Willy Brown

    Democrats showing their ture racial colors!

    January 5, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. diane ca

    burris shoud just step down–why is he so pushy? i have no respect for him because of his attitide. if he backed out now, maybe in 2010 he'd have a chance to run on his own. his attitude is like blago's–i'll show you!

    January 5, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. NYDEM

    Blago tried to sell the Senate seat, so how much did Burris pay? Why would Burris want to listen to this type of insinuation about his integrity? Is Burris so desperate for the Senate seat that he is willing to see his integrity questioned? What a tool.

    January 5, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. H

    ALL POLITICANS ARE CROOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. earle,florida

    This US Senate aka."Den of Thieve's", is so pathetic,the founding father's must be rolling in their graves! Imagine,they won't allow a black man with experience in the senate.This is similar to:" seating in the back of the bus", with all the other "mum-bo-jumbo's" goings on is astonishing,...

    January 5, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    Burris should not be allowed into the Senate. The Dems need to stand their ground!

    January 5, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. Concerned Democrat.

    Jesse White has NO LEGAL GROUNDS to deny the Senate Seat to Mr Burris

    Enough of the political theater and do you jobs.

    We are tired of the wheeling and dealing.

    Senator Burris was LEGALLY appointed and should be seated!

    January 5, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. Diamond

    I know the republicans have NOTHING to say. As corrupt as this current administration has been with Bush....PLEASE!!!!!!!

    Republicans are just waiting to jump on some democrat hating bandwagon. Get a life!

    Let Burris be seated

    January 5, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. tay809inil

    It's easy for people that do not live in IL to say all this crap. Illinois is in total disarray, Blago is costing the taxpayers over $2 mil a day, and he doesn't care. He claims that he was elected by the public, that public is Chicago, not downstate.

    Burris is just grand standing, getting his 15 minutes of fame. This whole circus is a joke,,,,, but wait a minute, this is what Chicago politics is all about.

    January 5, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. NT

    Bobby Rush screams about 'plantation politics' in the US Senate while Blago is pimping him, Roland Burris, and any folks who are getting worked up and believe that other Senators wish to bar Burris because he's an African-American. It's not the color if his skin or lack of credentials that hinder Burris. He is, I believe, the first black person elected to statewide office in Illinois and has a wealth of government experience. Burris is also seeking to fill a seat recently occupied by two African-Americans; Carol Moseley Braun being the first, Barack Obama the second. The problem for Burris is the stink surrounding Blagojevich.

    This isn't the first time that Blago has duped black folks with shiny objects in the form of political offices or promises. When it appeared that Illinois State Senator Rev. James Meeks (an African-American) was poised to run against Blago for governor in 2006, Blago promised Meeks that he would take major steps to revamp the school funding scheme in Illinois. Meeks promised not to run and Blago subsequently reneged.

    Burris' push is not a move for civil rights when he and others are being had, hoodwinked, led astray, and pimped out by a shady white guy by the name of Rod Blagojevich.

    January 5, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  22. Kriss-ATL

    Burris is an idiot hankering for publicity. No one is questioning his qualifications, but he is so drunk by the idea of Washington that he will do anything to get there. He looks like a total fool.If there is a cloud over that seat, common sense should say leave it alone until the cloud clears up. After such historic election he shouldn't tarnish the P.E's office or cause heartburn. Don't make it a racial issue. He said his appointment is not illegal, but it has unethical undertones. He had problems with Blago at first, then he ate his conscience and reached for power. He looks pitiful. He will fall on his own sword, because this will come back to haunt him. Keep him out.

    January 5, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
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