The Corner

Illinois Secy of State: The Senate Doesn’t Need My Signature to Seat Burris

Senate Democrats have based their refusal to seat Roland Burris on the refusal of the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, to sign Burris’ certificate of appointment.  Tuesday morning, Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson turned Burris away, saying Burris’ certification lacked White’s signature.

It’s an odd argument.  Does the Illinois Secretary of State have the authority to veto decisions made by the governor?  Can he do so for any reason he wants?  Are there other areas in which this veto power exists?

Now Jesse White himself is trying to distance himself from the situation.  “They could have seated him without my signature,” White told WGN Radio this morning.  “My signature is not necessarily required in order for the Senate to place the gentleman in the seat that he was appointed to by Gov. Blagojevich…My signature is mostly ceremonial rather than being a point of law.”

“Do you feel like you’re the fall guy on this?” asked WGN’s John Williams.  “The Senate conveniently has you to dodge their responsibility when they could have seated him.”

“You’re absolutely correct,” White said.

Williams asked it another way.  “You feel, just to be clear, that while they said you signature, which should be there, is not, and therefore they won’t seat Roland Burris, it’s your opinion that they don’t need that signature, that they could have seated him if they wanted to?”

“That’s exactly right,” White said.  “They’re talking about seating him now, without my signature.”

Finally, White was asked if he hopes Burris becomes the next senator from Illinois.  “Sure, certainly,” White said.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

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