Former Illinois AG sworn-in as Obama successor

Chris Rizo Jan. 15, 2009, 4:17pm

Roland Burris (D)

Lisa Madigan (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-Roland Burris was sworn in as the junior U.S. senator from Illinois on Thursday despite efforts by some Democrats to block any appointment to the seat by embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Burris, the 71-year-old former state attorney general, took the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

His efforts to assume the seat last were complicated because Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White refused to sign off on any Blagojevich appointment to the seat the two-term governor is accused of trying to sell for personal and political favors.

Madigan had sought to have the state Supreme Court remove the Democratic governor, but after the court rejected her lawsuit, she said the governor was within the law to appoint Burris. She called on the Senate to seat him immediately.

Blagojevich selected Burris to complete Obama's term on Dec. 30, just weeks after he was arrested on federal corruption charges.

Last week, Blagojevich was impeached on abuse-of-power charges by a 114-1 vote the state House of Representatives, which is led by Madigan's father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

For his part, Blagojevich has denied any wrongdoing and has refused to leave office.

After being sworn in by Vice President Dick Cheney, Burris was welcomed by his new Senate colleagues, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, who had originally opposed Burris's appointment.

"Whatever complications surrounded his appointment, we made it clear from the beginning, both publicly and privately, that our concern was never with Mr. Burris," Reid said. "I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Burris until last week. I found now-Senator Burris to be engaging, gracious, and he was very firm in his commitment to become a good and effective United States senator."

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