Sunday, January 4, 2009

Does Harry Reid Truly Have "Legal Authority" to Block Burris From Senate?

From Reuters:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Sunday that "legal authority" exists under the Constitution to bar embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pick to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, but added there is also room to negotiate.

Under the Constitution, Reid said, "We determine who sits in the Senate. And the House (of Representatives) determines who sits in the House. So there's clearly legal authority for us to do whatever we want to do. This goes back for generations."

But The Chicago Tribune reported last week:

Still, it is not clear that the Senate has the legal authority to block a fully qualified appointee. While Blagojevich is facing impeachment hearings in the General Assembly, he remains governor, and only the governor is allowed to appoint Barack Obama's successor to the Senate, according to Illinois law.

The U.S. Supreme Court in the past has said the Senate and House cannot refuse to seat new members who meet all the qualifications for office. In 1969, it rebuked the House for refusing to seat Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. a Democrat from New York who was re-elected despite being accused of ethical lapses.

Senator Reid is losing it. Seriously, he is losing his grip on reality and becoming a little bit egomaniacal. Kinda like the ObamaChrist.

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  1. Nate Silver at has a good post on the legalities and some posts to legal scholars on both sides. The difference with teh Powell case is that Powell was elected, while Burris is appointed which is a nuance.

    While I am a bit left of this fine site's opinions, I am in total agreement with you on Reid losing it. I for think he is a disaster as the Majority leader. IMHO I'm sure Obama sees this as well so I'd bet Reid is out by say the end of 2009 and you'd see someone like Jim Webb from VA as majority leader. We'd all agree there are more important issues than this one facing the country right now yet this (and, perhaps, Minnesota though will have to see how the Minesota Supreme Court rules later today).

    BTW I assume also that Blago gets to pick Rahm Emanuel's replacement but I've not seen any nominee there.

    Heckuva job, Harry.

  2. I believe there will be a special election to replace Rahm. Senators represent a state (hence a governor appointment) while the House Reps represent a single district hence an election.

    As far as Harry Reid, he will be facing a tough re-election in 2010 I believe and Republicans will be putting a lot of resources in defeating him in that election.

  3. You are right that Reid will be the hardest Democrat to re-elect in 2010 (unless Schwarzenegger runs against Boxer, but even that would probably be a toss up at best for him), though Nevada has been trending Blue. One key advantage for him, however is that 11% of Nevada population is Mormon, which normally would go Republican, however Reid is Mormon and I don't think the Mormons will through one of their own under the bus.

    2010 is a long way off of course though is like 2008 in that you have 23 Republican seats being defended vs 12 Democrats. The Dems seem to have two high probability pick ups in New Hampshire and Penn (if Spector does not run) with pretty good chances in Kansas and Lousiana (and Arizona, if McCain does not run for reelection).