[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/06/art.burris0106.gi.jpg caption="Terrance Gainer, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, escorted Roland Burris at the Capitol Tuesday when Burris tried to claim the seat vacated by President-elect Obama."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin stood with Democratic leaders Tuesday denying fellow Illinois Democrat Roland Burris the right to take the Senate oath, but the state’s senior senator did extend an invitation for Burris to watch the swearing-in ceremony from the Senate gallery, a Durbin spokesman tells CNN.
Durbin and other Democratic leaders have said they do not personally oppose Burris, but rather believe his appointment by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is tainted because of the governor’s alleged ethical lapses including trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
The Durbin spokesman said the office is holding a pass to the gallery – the elevated seats that ring the inside of the Senate chamber – for Burris, should he accept the invitation. Durbin also invited Burris to attend a reception in his Capitol Hill office for his own swearing-in, the aide said.
Burris was turned away from the Senate this morning, and it is unclear if he plans to return at noon to watch the swearing-in. Burris attorney Timothy Wright told reporters that denying his client the right to take the oath “is against the law of this land and we will consider our options” which he said ranged from going to court to continuing negotiations with Senate leadership.