The Burris Dossier


Chicago Public radio station WBEZ has posted Illinois Senate appointee Roland Burris's letter of appointment from Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the letter confirming the appointment's authenticity from Secretary of State Dexter White.   This follows the Illinois Supreme Court's ruling that despite the governor's legal troubles--federal indictment, impeachment, etc.--the appointment was valid.  Recent reports suggest that this should satisfy the Senate although new legal developments could slow seemingly inevitable Burris' effort to be promptly seated.

This being the blog of a law librarian, not "an old trial lawyer," here are links to all the legal documents cited so far in this curious case:

1.  The Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution.
“When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of each State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”

2.  Standing Rules of the Senate, Rule II: Presentation of Credentials and Questions of Privilege
“II. 2. The Secretary shall keep a record of the certificates of election and certificates of appointment of Senators by entering in a wellbound book kept for that purpose the date of the election or appointment, the name of the person elected or appointed, the date of the certificate, the name of the governor and the secretary of state signing and countersigning the same, and the State from which such Senator is elected or appointed.”

3.  Illinois Code.  United States Senators. 10 ILCS 5/25-8.
“When a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from this state, the Governor shall make temporary appointment to fill such vacancy until the next election of representatives in Congress, at which time such vacancy shall be filled by election, and the senator so elected shall take office as soon thereafter as he shall receive his certificate of election.”

4. Ill. Const. 1970, art. V, §16.
The Secretary of State shall maintain the official records of the acts of the General Assembly and such official records of the Executive Branch as provided by law. Such official records shall be available for inspection by the public. He shall keep the Great Seal of the State of Illinois and perform other duties that may be prescribed by law.”

5. Illinois Code.  Secretary of State Act. 15 ILCS 305/5
“[i]t shall be the duty of the Secretary of State:
1. To countersign and affix the seal of state to all commissions required by law to be issued by the Governor.
2. To make a register of all appointments by the Governor, specifying the person appointed, the office conferred, the date of the appointment, the date when bond or oath is taken and the date filed. If [State] Senate confirmation is required, the date of the confirmation shall be included in the register.”

6.  Burris v. White, Supreme Court of Illinois, No. 107816 (01/09/2009)
“Because the Secretary of State had no duty under section 5(1) of the Secretary of State Act (15 ILCS 305/5(1) (West 2006)) to sign and affix the state seal to the document issued by the Governor appointing Roland Burris to the United States Senate, Petitioners are not entitled to an order from this court requiring the Secretary to perform those Acts. Under the Secretary of State Act, the Secretary’s sole responsibility was to register the appointment (15 ILCS 305/5(2) (West 2006)), which he did. No further action is required by the Secretary of State or any other official to make the Governor’s appointment of Roland Burris to the United States Senate valid under Illinois law.”