Senate, Illinois May Block Pro-Abortion Burris Pick, Potential Supreme Court Fight
by Steven Ertelt
December 31, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Barack Obama and Senate Democrats are reacting negatively to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s selection of pro-abortion former state official Roland Burris to finish Obama’s term in the Senate. They say the selection is invalid because of Blagojevich’s participation in the pay-to-play scandal.
Blagojevich was reportedly caught on tape trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat or obtain a job or board of directors appointment in return.
Meanwhile, top Obama advisors, including future White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel are under fire for allegedly discussing the scheme with Blagojevich.
Democratic leaders in the Senate were angry about the Burris appointment and said Blagojevich shouldn’t have named anyone to the seat until the investigation about the scandal is resolved or he is no longer in office.
They are having to tread carefully because Burris is black and they are already perceived of enaging in racism by criticising the pick.
Still, they said it was truly regrettable that Blagojevich had taken such an imprudent step and renewed their call for him to step down. They said there is nothing wrong with Burris but added that anyone appointed by Blagojevich would be plagued by questions of impropriety.
For his part, Obama said the decision was extremely disappointing and repeated his call for the governor to resign. He described Burris as a good man and a fine public servant but backed the decision of Senate leaders to resist his appointment.
Ultimately, the Senate could reject Burris and the Constitution grants the Senate the right to do so. However, the appointment may not get that far.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who must formally approve the appointment, says he won’t do so even though he likes Burris.
"He’s a gentleman of impeccable credentials," White told CBS News. "However, I’m standing by my previous statement that I will not certify any recommendation coming from the governor’s office."
That alone could prevent the Senate from swearing in Burris.
The Senate may also take its own vote on whether or not to seat Burris pending the outcome of an investigation into the propriety of his appointment by the Senate Rules Committee.
If Burris is not seated, it may fall to Illinois’ next governor, Lt. Gov. Quinn, to make a selection for the Senate if and when Blagojevich resigns or is impeached by the state legislature.
The entire ordeal could wind up in a lawsuit with Blagojevich’s attorneys arguing that the appointment was necessary and that White is mandated to certify Burris’ position as the next Illinois senator.
For pro-life advocates, Burris is a concern because, like Obama, is strongly suports unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy.
During his tenure as the state’s top attorney, he came under criticism from pro-life advocates for determining that the state’s anti-stalking law is gender-neutral and declaring that it could be used to prosecute pro-life advocates who offer information to women outside an abortion center.
Burris was also accused of twisting the law to prosecute pro-life sidewalk counselors to curry favor with abortion advocates prior to a bid for governor.
"It has to be done. They’re violating the law," Burris claimed at the time. "So I’m doing it because I want to be governor? No, I’m doing it because it’s my job, and I will continue to do my job."
Burris also signed a consent decree that watered down a law to offer medical care for newborns who survive failed abortions — and that move led to the legislation Obama eventually opposed to put the original protections for infants in place.
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