What will Dems do about Burris now?

A state court decision says Roland Burris doesn't need the approval of the Illinois secretary of state, putting the Senate Democratic leadership in a bind.

By Alex Koppelman

Published January 9, 2009 11:30PM (EST)

Friday afternoon, Roland Burris got some good news and some bad news from the Illinois Supreme Court. On the one hand, the court rejected his bid to force Jesse White, the Illinois secretary of state, to sign the paper appointing him to the Senate. On the other hand, the court said Burris doesn't even need that signature, that his appointment is valid without it. That opened up a whole new can of worms: Democrats had been using the lack of White's seal of approval as justification for keeping Burris out.

So what will the Senate leadership do now that a court has said their rationale isn't on solid legal ground? Well, so far there's no word from Majority Leader Harry Reid. But his deputy, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says they're standing fast. He indicated that the impasse might go on until Gov. Rod Blagojevich is removed from office or resigns and his successor makes a new appointment. That, however, would appear to go against the wishes of President-elect Barack Obama, whose team reportedly asked Senate Dems to move the process along and seat Burris.

Update: Reid spokesman Jim Manley sends out a statement: "The Senate Parliamentarian, the Secretary of the Senate and Senate Legal Counsel are advising Senate Leadership as we consider a way forward."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Harry Reid Richard J. Durbin D-ill. Roland Burris