During an appearance on PBS’ NewsHour, Burris said:
Why indeed. Reid is standing on shaky ground.
In 1967, the House voted to exclude Adam Clayton Powell Jr. from taking his seat. Powell sued and won.
In Powell v. McCormack, the U.S. Supreme Court held that “in judging the qualifications of its members, Congress is limited to the standing qualifications prescribed in the Constitution.”
I asked Adam Clayton Powell III to share his thoughts on the Senate drama. Adam was present for the oral argument in the landmark case. In an email, Adam wrote:
It will be interesting to see whether the Senate adopts the same legal reasoning that the lawyer for the House of Representatives used in the Supreme Court argument: that exclusion of an elected member of Congress because of race, while clearly unconstitutional, would not be a sufficient “perversion” to warrant judicial relief…This echo of Reconstruction caused a quite audible reaction in the court, and incredulity from the bench.
Adam sent a link to an audio clip of the oral argument and added:
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Reid didn’t want Blagojevich to appoint an African American to fill the vacant seat:
Rather, Reid called Blagojevich to argue he appoint either state Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Sources say the Senate majority leader pushed against Jackson and Davis — both democratic congressmen from Illinois — and against Jones — the Illinois Senate president who is the political godfather of President-elect Barack Obama — because he did not believe the three men were electable. He feared losing the seat to a Republican in a future election.
MR. GREGORY: But there sounds to me like there may be some room here to negotiate and actually seat Burris?
SEN. REID: Hey, listen, David, I’m an old trial lawyer. There’s always room to negotiate (emphasis added).
MR. GREGORY: All right, so you’re not saying no completely that he won’t serve?
SEN. REID: That’s right.