January 05, 2009

Senate or Oligarchy?

Harry Reid disturbed me yesterday on Meet the Press when he said repeatedly and emphatically that the Senate decides who sits in the Senate. The truth is that the Senate is the judge of the constitutional qualifications of incoming Senators and seats them on that basis. By all accounts, Roland Burris has been legally appointed by the governor of Illinois to assume Barack Obama's vacated place in the Senate and meets those qualifications. The philosophy that Senators sit at the pleasure of the Senate, not for the terms to which they have been elected by the voters of their state (or in this case, by gubernatorial appointment), is slouching towards an oligarchy exercising arbitrary power. The Senate should seat Roland Burris and, if they feel they must, begin an investigation into any malfeasance on his part (for which now there is absolutely no evidence) and then expel him if compelling evidence is discovered. In a true democracy, the rule of law is paramount.