I have no idea what the outcome will be of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision to divide the baby. If I understand things correctly, Court declined to order the Illinois Secretary of State to sign the certificate required by the Senate rules to verify Blago’s nomination of Roland Burris for the vacant Senate seat. But it also ruled that the nomination was complete without the Secretary of State’s signature, according to Illinois law.
The problem is that it isn’t Illinois law that governs. The Senate is the judge of its own returns, so if its rules require a document written in vermilion ink and sealed with four pieces of red tape, its rules would seem to control. On the other hand, it’s not clear to me that, by Illinois law, there remains any vacancy for the new Governor to fill, or whether there’s anything the legislature can do about it.
In the meantime, Burris’s “dumb but clean” image has been taking a pounding. It’s not clear that the Governor received no financial benefit for appointing him, and it is clear that Burris, in an act of political cowardice, tried to send a man he knew to be innocent to the gas chamber. Those are two good reasons not to seat Burris if there’s any legal justification for not doing so.
One possible outcome: the Senate can hold some hearings about whether Burris’s firm paid off Blago’s wife and decide (after Blago is out of office) to reject the nomination on the grounds that it was corruptly procured. That is clearly within the Senate’s Constitutional powers, and would leave a vacancy for the new Governor to fill.