January 6th, 2009
11:35 AM ET
13 years ago

Burris shut out by Senate secretary

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/06/art.roland1.cnn.jpg caption="Burris told reporters Tuesday he was turned away from the Senate."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris, named by Illinois' controversial governor to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat, said Tuesday morning that he had been informed by the secretary of the U.S. Senate that his credentials were "not in order" when he arrived at the Senate door for the start of the 111th Congress.

Watch: Burris and his attorney speak to the media

Nancy Erickson, the Senate secretary, initially rejected Burris' appointment on Monday 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 Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat.


Filed under: Roland Burris
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Sian

    I suppose interpreting the law for political gain is not "Severely damaging to the Democratic Party". I wonder if Lisa Madigan or Jesse Jackson jr, before he was outed, would face such opposition.

    January 6, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Concerning Burris’ appointment to the US Senate, it is important to remember that they are rules that need to be followed unless the entire system is going to collapse.

    1. Before Burris can be accepted into the US Senate, Burris must present his credentials to the Secretary of the Senate to be formally entered into the Senate rolls. Anyone who does not possess the appropriate credentials can not (can not, not should not) be accepted into the Senate. There is no leeway or ambiguity. cf Senate Rule number 2.

    2. The Senate credentials, in order to be complete, needs two signatures. One of the signatures is the Governor of the State. The other signature is the Secretary of State for that state. Again, in accordance to Senate Rule 2, there is no leeway or ambiguity in this.

    3. Illinois Secretary of State White has declined to sign Burris’ credentials.

    Given these three facts, Mr. Burris can not be accepted into the US Senate at this time. To do so would be to break the Senate Rules.

    Notice that this has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Burris’ race, but everything to do with following the rules. If the rules were broken, there would be an uproar of protests.

    If anyone has a gripe about this, the person to look toward is Illinois Secretary of State White. The question to ask is: Does Secretary White have the authority not to sign the credentials? The decision is made by Secretary White. That is where our questions need to be directed.

    January 6, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. An Independent Hillary

    Burris is a good and reputable man. Blago is still legally the Governor and is following the law. Reid and CO are playing divisive politics as usual. I hope Reid gets voted out of office in the next election. If Bush is the worst president we've ever had, then consider Reid the worst Senate Leader we've ever had – cause he just stood there doing the Bush years and did nothing about it.

    Enough is enough!

    January 6, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Moonbeam

    Burris knew it well ahead and still accepted Blagojevitch's offer! Why?
    I understand that Blago had asked couple of other candidates to be his appointees. And all of them made every possible effort not to talk to him, never mind accepting! At this point, everything that Blago touches becomes radioactive.
    By accepting, Burris destroyed everything he has done before that day. Things people do to be on camera!

    January 6, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Dave, Central Illinois

    If the Senate Majority Leader was a Republican, the howls of "racism" would be heard across the country. Its to bad that the likes of Reid and Blago will distract from Obama's party on 1/20. I didn't vote for him, but every new President deserves a good start. I hope this drives Obama more to the center as he sees what the nutjob Left is really like.

    January 6, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. JM

    Imagine that the white democratic senate leadership is barring a legally appiointed, qualified African American Senator from enterring the senate chaimbers. Looks like the Dems are the party of white sheets and pointy hats.

    January 6, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. anthony

    Tony,

    Perhaps if he changes his party affiliation to Republican you will have a different opinion?

    January 6, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. JM

    Where are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton in this?

    January 6, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. HelpTheAmericanPeople

    I am a Progressive Democrat and Burris should not be given the Senate seat the seat should be filled by a Progressive Democrat without connections to the Governor.

    January 6, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. William, from Cali!

    Don't be surprised, sometimes you really don't get what you asked for...

    January 6, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. Mary

    If he is a truely good individual, he should not accept this position in this current situation. No sane individual should accept this senate position from Rod Blagojevich and his authority any more.

    January 6, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. William, from Cali!

    Don't be surprise, sometimes you don't really get what you asked for...for Christmas!

    January 6, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Nimi from NY

    What was he thinking? I am a black woman but I can't imagine why in the world he accepted the offer from this Governor. Is he that power hungry?

    January 6, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. paul oregon

    obama your are suppose to be a export abount the law . whats your opioin????? how many different visions of the law do we have??

    January 6, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Tim

    Ladies and gentlement, please draw your attention to the center ring..........

    January 6, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. AJ

    I think Burris needs a lesson in humility and really don't want him to have another thing to add to the monument he built to himself, but sadly, think that it's wrong to try and deny him this seat. They really don’t have a leg to stand on and will wind up looking very petty and childish for attempting to shut him out.

    January 6, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. Bridgette-PA

    We should stop paying attention to this crap everyday. Until someone decides whether it was legal for Blagojevich to appoint him or not, it's not a story anymore.

    January 6, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. Chad

    Democrats are racist. It would be a different story if he was white.

    January 6, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. redhead from Toronto

    Secretary of State Jesse White should just sign the certificate and get this over with. If Burris turns out to be implicated in any shenanigans the people of Illinois can toss him out on his ear in 2010. Stop the fuss, just get on with the job of moving America forward – YES ?

    January 6, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Don From Maine

    While i personally think the Governor is guilty as sin he has not as of yet been convicted of any wrongdoing. As far as I know the constitution still supports that one is innocent untill proven guilty in a court of law. The people of Illinois deserve a representative in congress. For congress to deny the people of Illinois ther right to a representative is a travesty not to mention I don't think legal. Untill we come up with a new better and voted upon way to appoint a senator perhaps we should just follow the rules that were made. What gives congress the right to circumvent the rules that are already in place without a hearing and vote? Perhaps we should tell our elected senators that if they can't follow rules and proceedures that we can always elect a new one who will follow the constituion that our brave soldiers have fought and died for.

    January 6, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Sam

    Tony January 6th, 2009 12:07 pm ET
    Obvious not being a democrat, you make no sense. If its 'damaging' and Democrats are 'Rats' whats makes Burris lawfully appointed.

    January 6, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. At some point, just follow the rules ...

    I had more support for Reid to strip Lieberman of his chairmainship status than I do for him to restrict the entry of Burris into the Senate.

    This smacks of country club elitism against Mr. Burris. Reid, this is quicksand around the necks of the Democrats. Don' be an idiot.

    January 6, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. Hammer

    I see alot of comments about the dasterdly deeds that Blagojevich has done in the Obama seat in the Senate and how vile his actions are, but my question is--– what has he done that 99% of the other politicians crying out have not done. They all take and promise favors to get elected or sell their votes on issues on the floor and call it politics

    January 6, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. Ann

    What a disgusting display of Democratic politics in trying to smear Burris at the same time they are playing foul with a legally appointed representative. Blajojevich is still Governor, not been found guilty of anything and therefore no one should hold that against Burris and deny him and the citizens of Illinois their representative. I don't hear calls for Richardson to step down as Governor since he is under investigation for pay to play? I saw Craig still filling his role after being convicted and nobody from the Senate kicked him out. If this is the state of Illinois politics where you play by your own rules when it suits you, then maybe the media did all of us a disservice by not vetting Obama much more closely before they decided that they would convince us he just had to be the next chosen one.

    January 6, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. JRW

    Dear JONNY IN GEORGIA,

    FYI – We are all sinners.

    January 6, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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