Seat Burris

I haven’t gotten around to blogging about the latest drama involing Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, but suffice to say I think the Seante should dutifully seat his appointment, and Harry Reid should really stop shooting his mouth off with such offhand tough guy rhetoric. He’s the Senate Majority Leader ferchrissakes. If he wants to feel important, he should resign, run for the House, and hope for a leadership position quickly.

In any event it seems pretty clear to me that the Senate has no authority whatsoever to refuse the appointment, nor should they for that matter, and given that fact they ought to abide by the law, no matter how unseemly the Governor may be. Though to be fair, there are other people who think they do have the authority, but for the most part arguments in favor of fighting the appointment have been more akin to this unusually weak argument offered by Jed L at Kos:

Here’s the key to my argument: I submit that anybody — even Patrick Fitzgerald —  appointed by Rod Blagojevich to the Senate would be tainted by the fact that he aimed to sell this U.S. Senate seat.

This has nothing to do with who Blagojevich appoints. We know that Blagojevich wanted to sell this Senate seat. That corruption necessarily taints any appointment he makes.

Some people believe Roland Burris made no deals with Blago. Perhaps he didn’t. But we can’t know whether that’s true, and given the recordings of Blago, we shouldn’t be surprised to see anything.

When Burris defends his appointment by Blago, he carefully notes that Blago has not been convicted of anything. This is true, but not relevant.

Innocent until proven guilty is a standard used in the criminal justice system, but even in the criminal justice system, one’s rights are curtailed while awaiting trial.

Take, for example, the case of Bernie Madoff. He hasn’t been found guilty of anything. Nonetheless, he’s under house arrest.

While he awaits trial, would anybody seriously argue that Madoff should be allowed to run an investment fund?

If not, why should the Senate judge an appointment by Rod Blagojevich to the Senate to be free from the taint of corruption?

Well, for starters, there’s the fact that, so far, nothing more than a complaint has been offered against Blago. In fact, Fitzgerald is seeking an extension to his window in which to return an indictment against Blagoevich, in large part because it seems increasingly likely that Blago may not actually have committed any crimes in regards to the Senate vacancy.

But on the other hand, there is the simple fact that politicians and governing bodies must be made to respect laws, not allowed to circumvent or blatantly ignore them when it’s politically convenient or it “feels” like the right thing to do. At the end of the day Blagojevich is still the Governor of Illinois, the law still vests the authority for filling the vacancy in him, and there isn’t any credible allegation at this point that Burris obtained the appointment in any form of illegal manner. So establishing all of that, the Senate must seat Burris out of a respect for the law, and for the principle that the Senate is not an all powerful, unconstrained body who can just keep anyone out it deems “offensive.” Moreover, progressive bloggers should be extra vigilant in holding Democrats accountable to these ideas in the wake of the last 8 years. The last thing progressives, or this country, need now is Harry Reid picking up for George Bush in asserting an ability to disregard the law at a whim.

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