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Signature Isn’t Required for Burris Appointment

(CN) - The Illinois secretary of state was not required to sign and seal Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, the state Supreme Court ruled.

Burris sought a writ of mandamus forcing Secretary of State Jesse White to sign and affix the state seal to the appointment document Blagojevich issued on Dec. 30, 2008. Burris claimed White had a duty under the Secretary of State Act to officially recognize his appointment.

Democratic legislators said they would resist any appointment made by Blagojevich, who has been accused of trying to sell the vacant seat to the highest bidder.

But the state high court said White's signature and stamp weren't required to certify Burris. The governor's appointment form was "merely a recommended form," and state officials are not required to adopt recommended forms, the court concluded.

The justices also dissected the statutory language, which states that the sign-and-seal requirement applies only to "commissions required by law to be issued by the governor."

"No provision of law, however, requires a commission to be issued by the Governor in case of appointments to fill vacancies in the United States Senate," Justice Karmeier wrote.

"Because gubernatorial appointments only require issuance of an actual commission when the governing law makes issuance of a commission necessary for the validity of a gubernatorial appointee to a United States Senate vacancy, no commission was required by law to effectuate the appointment of Mr. Burris to the United States Senate," Karmeier added.

"And because the Secretary of State's 'sign and seal' duty is triggered only in cases where commissions are required by law, it necessarily follows that the Secretary of State had no duty to sign and seal the certificate of appointment issued by the Governor in this case."

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