Should Roland Burris, appointed by Illinois Gov. Blagojevich to fill Pres.-elect Obama's Senate seat, be permitted to take his seat by the Senate? From a constitutional standpoint, the answer would appear to be yes. Fordham law professor Abner Greene, speaking on the NewsHour this evening, pointed out that the Senate's power under Art.I Sec.5 to be "the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members" is fairly weak support for refusing to seat Burris; but it's the only constitutional support available, given that Burris's appointment conforms to the requirements of the 17th Amendment.
Whether this line of reasoning will prove decisive with the members of the Senate Democratic caucus is doubtful. But even from a political and fairness angle, there's a case to be made for seating him. After all, it's not Burris's fault that Blagojevich is going to be indicted, and there's no evidence that Burris was involved in any alleged wrongdoing. And having a full complement of senators from Illinois could only help matters in the early days of the Obama legislative agenda.