Illinois Supreme Court Says Burris Does Not Need a Writ of Mandamus

Illinois Supreme Court Says Burris Does Not Need a Writ of Mandamus –Following up the post from earlier this week, on rules versus law: According to the unanimous Supreme Court of Illinois, Roland Burris does not need the signature of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, in order to be certified for the U.S. Senate.

Here is the pertinent graf from the IL Supreme Court ruling: “We note … that nothing in the published rules of the Senate,
including Rule II, appears to require that Senate appointments made by
state executives pursuant to the 17th Amendment must be signed and
sealed by the state’s secretary of state. Moreover, no explanation has
been given as to how any rule of the Senate, whether it be formal or
merely a matter of tradition, could supersede the authority to fill
vacancies conferred on the states by the federal constitution. Under
these circumstances, the Senate’s actions cannot serve as the predicate
for a mandamus action against the secretary of state. The only issue
before us is whether the secretary of state, an official of this state,
failed to perform an act required of him by the law of Illinois. He did
not.”


An interesting reflection of our federal system, here: The U.S. Senate cannot tell the state of Illinois what to do, because under the U.S. Constitution the authority to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat belongs to the state.

Since the signature of the Illinois Secretary of State is not required, the IL SoS is not required to sign.

Seating Mr. Burris is thus up to the Senate, and Chair of the Rules Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to her credit, has already astutely said that she doesn’t think the rules keep Burris out.

Some of the women in this Illinois-Senate picture, btw, are looking & sounding better than the men, if that’s a yardstick. Jesse White was represented in court by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose statement about the ruling says that clearly White “is not the roadblock to Mr. Burris’s appointment to the U.S. Senate.”

Madigan’s conclusion: “It
remains within the power of the U.S. Senate to seat Mr. Burris.  They
should do so immediately.”


I still wonder about those “thousands” of phone calls “intercepted” by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Office spokesman Randall Samborn courteously declines comment on questions about whether any of the recorded conversations include or involve judges–federal, state, local. But without any joking or inappropriate conjecture whatsoever, I wonder whether ‘thousands’ of phone calls involving the governor of Illinois could, as a matter of mathematical probability, fail to include or involve judges. The question then becomes what potential conflicts of interest could arise.

Now, of course, on top of everything else, we have those counts of impeachment from the Illinois House–several of them political/policy disagreements betw governor and legislator, and the rest apparently based on the allegations in the federal charging document. Blagojevich himself, judging from his press appearance a little while ago, is discussing the policy counts in the impeachment and the federal charges separately–or rather, is not discussing the federal charges at all, which looks wise.

But in any case it wd surely have been wiser for the newly elected U.S. Senate to treat Burris–who once ran against Blagojevich–separately from the governor.

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