In my last post, “Burris vs. Reid” I wrote “In the meantime Burris is the legally appointed interim Senator.” On further reflection, that seems to be inaccurate. The Constitution does not give the Governor the authority to appoint a Senator fill a vacancy. It directs him to issue a writ of election. The state Legislature may grant the Governor authority to appoint an interim Senator until the election takes place. As far as I know, the Legislature has not taken this step.
The Governor and the Legislature recognizes the constitutional necessity for an election to fill the Congressional seat of Rom Emmanuel. The Constitutional language for filling both vacancies is the same.
Article I, Section 2, regarding Congressmen
“When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.”
Amendment 17, regarding Senators
“When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies:”
It would seem then, that Roland Burris is not the legally appointed Senator until the 2010 elections. The reason the Democrats in Illinois do not insist on an election must be that there is a good chance that a statewide election for the Senate, at this time, would result in a Republican victory. In that case, it is better to ignore the Constitution. At least, that appears to the Democratic thinking.
Political life would be so much simpler if only the politicians would honor their oath of office.