Saturday, January 03, 2009

Abuse of Power by Democratic Senator Reid

CNN reports that Senate Democrats plan to block Roland Burris, Blagojevich's appointee to Obama's vacated Senate seat, from entering the Senate floor:

The aide familiar with Senate Democratic leaders' plans said if Burris tries to enter the Senate chamber, the Senate doorkeeper will stop Burris. If Burris were to persist, either trying to force his way onto the Senate floor or refusing to leave and causing a scene, U.S. Capitol Police would stop him, said the aide.

What right do Harry Reid and the rest of the Senate Democrats have to keep Burris from entering the Senate floor? The Constitution gives the Senate, not Reid or the Democrats, the right to determine its members. Until the 111th Congress formally meets, and until the Senate formally votes to deny Burris his seat in the Senate, Burris has as much right to enter the Senate floor as any other new member of the Senate.

It is an abuse of his power for Reid to use the Senate doorkeeper or the U.S. Capitol Police against Burris until a vote by the full Senate is taken to deny Burris his lawfully appointed seat.

EDIT (1/4/09): Reid and the Senate Democrats have softened their stance a little. It appears that if he has a valid certicate of appointment, he will be allowed on the Senate floor. This new stance seems valid to me. According to Fox news:

The certificate of appointment must bare the signatures of both the governor and the secretary of state. Secretary of State Jesse White who has refused to sign the document because of the allegations of corruption against the governor.
Should the Illinois Supreme Court force White to sign the document, a move Burris is seeking, Burris would be allowed on the Senate floor. Reid or some other Democrat would then have to object to Burris being seated and call up a resolution that would send his credentials to the Rules Committee pending an investigation.

EDIT (1/5/09): The Wall Street Journal published an editorial 1/3/09 stating that according to the Supreme Court's opinion in Powell v. McCormack (1969), the Senate must seat Burris but can then expel him with a 2/3 rds vote.

Assuming that Burris obtains certification by the Illinois secretary of state (which is a nodiscretionary duty and will probably be compelled by the Illinois state courts), the Senate must seat him and can then expel him if they wish.


Anonymous said...

According to Rule XXIII, senators elect may be denied floor privileges if they are "in the employ of or represents any party or organization for the purpose of influencing, directly or indirectly, the passage, defeat, or amendment of any Federal legislative proposal." This caveat doesn't apply to Blagojevich himself, which is why the article says that if he shows up, he cannot be turned away.

Michael Rack, MD said...

Anon, thanks for your comments. Who has the authority to invoke rule XXIII?? Can it be done by Reid alone or does it require a vote of the Senate??

I am not a lawyer or politician, but am relying on common sense, which is often wrong in legal matters. If this post is in error, I will add an edit to the post retracting it.

If any readers want to add further comments/info on the matter, it would be appreciated.


Michael Rack, MD

Ted said...

Speaking of Harry Reid, Senate Democrats and Constitutional qualifications, seems there are more immediate issues than Burris, namely BHO himself (WHY NO MEDIA COVERAGE OF THIS?) --


When counting the electoral votes, either Congress finds by 1/8/09 that Obama -- not being an Article II “natural born citizen” (father Kenyan/British, not American, citizen) -- fails to qualify as President whereupon Biden becomes the full fledged President under 3 USC 19 (free to pick his own VP such as Hillary) or thereafter defers to the Supreme Court to enjoin Obama’s inauguration with Biden becoming only Acting President under the 20th Amendment until a new President is duly determined.

The preferable choice, at least for the Democrats, would seem obvious.

Michael Rack, MD said...

Ted, although I agree with you that Obama does not meet the Constitutional provisions to be President, now that the Supreme Court has declined to act on the matter, its been left up to the Democratic Congress. There is a 100% chance that Congress is going to accept the Electoral vote and Obama will be President.