Will/Can/Should the Senate Seat Roland Burris?
I am going to focus on the larger issue here, and avoid the scandal discussions and political debate. All I really want to do is remind people of this precedent: the denial of a seat to Pennsylvania Republican Willian S. Vare in 1929. I have heard people in the media discussing the Adam Clayton Powell rulings, but that was for the House, not the Senate. I have not heard any mention of the Vare dispute, which seems even more on point. Each body has its own rules governing membership, although clearly the Powell ruling may apply in many ways. If Roland Burris has to file a lawsuit to be seated, though, it might take him a lot longer than the two-year term for which he would be appointed. At least Adam Clayton Powell was fighting for his long-term political future, not a short-term appointment.
I am not saying whether Burris should or should not be seated by the Senate. I am just saying that Sen. Harry Reid is right when he says that sitting senators have the power to deny Burris his place in the Senate, if that is what the majority of them choose to do.