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In Senate Fight, Law May Be on Burris' Side

Roland Burris and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (MSNBC)Yesterday we wrote that the Senate Democratic caucus was threatening to not seat Roland Burris, who Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's picked to replace Barack Obama in the Senate.

Not so fast, Harry Reid.

Today, experts are questioning whether Congress has the legal authority to block Burris from serving. Many are saying the issue will end up in court.

Today's New York Times reports that the Senate has rarely denied seats to candidates, and even then, only to those whose election outcome was in doubt or who were accused of corruption. But neither of those applies to Burris.

And Blagojevich still has the sole power to make the appointment as long as he has not been removed from office.

There’s also some U.S. Supreme Court precedent on Burris' side. The court found that the House could not refuse to seat Adam Clayton Powell, who had been accused of financial impropriety, if he met the constitutionally determined qualifications for age, citizenship and residency.

"I think the best reading of the text of the Constitution and the Powell case together is that the Senate has to seat Burris," Abner S. Greene, the Leonard F. Manning professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, told the Times.

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