Burris Wins at Ill. High Court; Senate Path Still Blocked

Aspiring Sen. Roland Burris (D) won his certification battle before the Illinois Supreme Court Friday, but Senate leaders in Washington say the ruling only strengthens their position that the controversial appointee of Gov. Rod Blagojevich cannot be seated in Congress.

Burris was handed an apparent victory by the Supreme Court which ruled that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White does not have to sign the certification paperwork by Blagojevich, meaning Burris's appointment last month is valid. White had vowed not to sign the papers because of the corruption charges facing Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell his appointment to President-elect Barack Obama's former seat.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have said Burris won't be allowed to be seated without such certification. But a senior Senate aide said the court ruling bolsters their claim that Burris can't become a senator, because of an 1884 Senate rule that says senators must have certification papers signed by their states' governors and secretaries of state. White renewed his vow not to sign the papers Friday, since the court ruled he didn't have to.

The next step for Burris is likely to be a lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, which would almost certainly take months to resolve. Senate leaders hope Blagojevich will be impeached and removed from office by Illinois state lawmakers by then, allowing Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn to assume the governor's office and make a fully legal appointment.

-J. Taylor Rushing