Race of the Day — Illinois Senate special

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) plans to press ahead with his effort to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to allow him to participate in a post-election lame-duck Senate session.

An Illinois judge ruled in August that the state’s general-election Senate candidates will also appear on the special-election ballot for the remainder of President Obama’s Senate term. That means Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk will be running in two races for one seat, but Burris was excluded from participating because he didn't file as a general-election candidate.

ADVERTISEMENT
Burris — a former state attorney general — has filed a motion asking justices to put him on the special-election ballot. The winner of the special election will serve out the 60 days between Nov. 3 and Jan. 3, when a new Congress is inaugurated. An official with the Illinois State Board of Elections said the results should be certified within the week of Nov. 22, which would install the new senator in the middle of the lame-duck session.

In June, an appeals court had ruled that the state violated the Constitution by not holding a special election for the seat after Burris's interim appointment ends. A district court judge, John Grady, subsequently ruled that only the general-election candidates — and not Burris — would be eligible in the special election, which would be held on the same day.

Burris said Grady is "off-base" by overstepping the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which established direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote.

"We think the judge is definitely off-base when he began to overstep the bounds of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and select candidates for the special election," Burris said.

"That's what he's doing. So we've filed a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court to say that the State Legislature under the 17th Amendment should be the body that would make the determination on the election — not the judge."

Burris said his lawyers have asked for an immediate ruling.

"What we're hoping that will do is take away that special election," he said. "Having two elections on Nov. 2 for Illinois's Senate seat would be unconscionable. ... We're trying to prevent the law from being perverted. It's about the principle of it. The judge does not have the authority to select candidates for an election."


— Sean J. Miller contributed to this post.