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Burris Unlikely To Get Sign-off By Tuesday

Roland Burris, embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's choice to replace Barack Obama in the Senate, will unlikely have his certification papers in order by the time the 111th Congress convenes on Tuesday.

Burris filed an emergency lawsuit in the state Supreme Court Wednesday to force Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to sign certified documents saying he has been appointed to the seat, which he would present to the secretary of the Senate next week.

But the state attorney general's office, which is representing White in the lawsuit, does not have to respond to the lawsuit until next Wednesday, a day after the beginning of the 111th Congress.

Since Senate rules call for certification papers to include the signature of the secretary of state,  Democrats could use the unresolved situation to avoid administering the oath of office to Burris when the freshmen class is sworn in on Tuesday. If he shows up Tuesday, he won't be allowed to enter the Senate chambers.

While it's possilbe the state Supreme Court could decide whether or not to take the case before the Wednesday filing, that scenario is unlikely, according to legal experts in the state.

Legal experts expect Burris to win the court challenge, saying the secretary of state does not have veto power over a governor's appointment.

But if he ultimately gets his papers in order, Democrats plan further stall tactics to prevent Burris from being seated. Before he is seated, they plan to vote on a resolution calling for a Rules Committee investigation on the process that led to the former Illinois attorney general's selection. Such a move would allow the state legislature to conclude impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich, giving Lt. Pat Quinn appointment powers for the next senator.

Blagojevich has denied allegations of trying to sell Obama's former Senate seat to the highest bidder, but Democrats say they cannot seat Burris because of the taint of the scandal. White refused to sign the papers because of the scandal.

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