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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/4/09

Seating Franken and Burris: Memo to Congress

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Seating Franken and Burris


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Al Franken (D-MN) left and Roland Burris (D-IL) right
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Memo to the U.S. Senate:
Try Following the Rules

Michael Collins

We've seen what happens when people don't follow the letter and intent of important laws, particularly those where there is a general consensus and an absence of moral ambiguity.  Consider our history from the implosion of Enron through stock market collapse.  This extreme damage was enabled by the deliberate defiance, evasion, and perversion of rules and laws, all in the service of personal gain for a very few.  Citizens lost $6 trillion in that episode of lawlessness.

President Bush and his administration consistently broke the laws of the United States by illegally tapping phones and emails, "selling" the Iraq invasion based on outright lies, and, in the case of six cabinet officials, participating in the "choreography" of torture sessions.  All of them found the Constitution a nuisance and rendered it meaningless by their actions.  The cost of these violations is incalculable.

A government gains legitimacy through the ascent to shared rules and laws by the vast majority of citizens.  No government can retain legitimacy, however, when the legislature fails to enforce and live by the very laws that they are sworn to protect.

Democrats and Republicans are now unified along party lines in their defiance of the laws.  Is this the new national unity we've been hearing about?

Yet this is exactly what is happening in the cases of the legally appointed Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris, and the soon to be certified winner of the Minnesota senatorial election, Al Franken.  Republicans are threatening to delay the seating of Franken, even when he's certified the winner of the Minnesota Senate seat.  Senate Democrats all signed a letter of implied threat to the governor of Illinois regarding his selection of Roland Burris as the U.S. Senator from Illinois.

The final vote count for Franken shows him winning by a narrow margin.  The same elections system that conducted the recount will recommend and likely receive certification of the election quickly by the authorized state authority.

Burris was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) according to the laws of Illinois.  There's no provision that says a governor can't make a selection if he's been indicted for any crime.  The Illinois Supreme Court refused to remove the governor when the request was made by the State Attorney General.  The Illinois legislature could have impeached him but it didn't.  He is still the governor of Illinois.

Senate objections to Franken and Burris show that the United States Senate has thrown out the rule book and is ignoring established law when it comes to plans for the "presumptive" Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, and the legally appointed Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris.

The Laws of the United States, Illinois, and Minnesota Were Followed

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