(CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the petitions of two former elected officials from Illinois in a legal fight spawned by the appointment of a replacement for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.
After hearing the case in September 2010, the 7th Circuit rejected U.S. Sen. Roland Burris’ bid to appear on the ballot in a special election for Obama’s seat.
The fight stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Illinois voters Gerald Judge and David Kindler.
Shortly before the Chicago-based federal appeals court issued its ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Burris’ bid to stop the special election from taking place without his name on the ballot.
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich had appointed Burris to fill Obama’s vacant Senate seat until the state Legislature ordered a special election. That order never came, prompting the lawsuit in May 2009.
A federal judge ruled that the appointment was temporary, and that Burris would serve as Obama’s replacement until the winner of the general election takes office on Jan. 3.
In June 2010, the 7th Circuit refused to compel Gov. Pat Quinn to hold a special election. Although the court acknowledged that the plaintiffs had “a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their constitutional claim,” it ruled that there was still ample time for an election to be organized without a court order.
Quinn petitioned for a rehearing, claiming the state would not be prepared for a Nov. 2 special election.
The 7th Circuit refused to rehear the case, and the Supreme Court rejected this petition for review on Monday as well.
Eventually in a Nov. 2 special election, the parties agreed to limit the ballot to candidates who had been selected in primaries and were set to appear on the general election ballot for the new, six-year Senate term.
Under the plan, Sen. Burris would not appear on the ballot because his “appointment to the Senate did not give him a special claim to a spot on the ballot over any other citizen.”
Nearly 15 percent of the almost 200 vacancies in the last century have been filled without a vote of the people, according to the 7th Circuit.
Sen. Mark Kirk succeeded Burris after winning the special election and then succeeded in winning a full six-year term that began in 2011.