Taint Right? Well, Its the Law


Political consultant Sanford Horns opinion piece January 9 on the Democrat contretemps over an Illinois seat in the U.S. Senate is in keeping with presentations on TV news programs: glib jibes that generally misstate the legal situation. One, the U.S. Constitutions 17th Amendment provides that any state may empower its executive to make a temporary appointment until an election is held. Two, the Illinois governor appointed as successor an individual meeting all three qualifications stated in the Constitutions Article I, Section 3: age 30, nine years a U.S. citizen, and an inhabitant of that state. Three, those are the only qualifications of which each house of Congress, under Article I, Section 5, is the sole judge in seating members. Four, the certification of appointment, under Illinois law, is made valid by the governors signature as appointing official and is not dependent upon the secretary of states signature, as recently argued by both the current secretary of state and attorney general before the states supreme court, which that court has affirmed.

Therefore, Mr. Burris has been an Illinois senator since his appointment was signed. There is no longer a vacancy for any successor governor to fill. Should the Senate majority leader and whip persist in asserting that Mr. Burris certification of appointment is not in order and block his being seated despite the view expressed by the outgoing chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee that he should be, Mr. Burris could file suit in Federal court. A Supreme Court ruling years ago that the House cannot refuse to seat a member who met the qualifications of Art. I, Sect. 3 augers well for his success. The political figures pursuing this indefensible theater deserve their black eyes.

Michael Strutzel

Alexandria, VA