Illinois Senate seat to stay vacant: Durbin

CHICAGO Fri Jan 9, 2009 5:10pm EST

1 of 2. U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) talks after meeting with U.S. Senate-designate Roland Burris (D-IL) on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 7, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - No one can occupy the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama until the governor of Illinois is removed and a new appointment can be certified, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said on Friday.

Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, was reacting to the Illinois Supreme Court's ruling denying a motion by Roland Burris that the state's secretary of state certify his appointment to the seat.

Secretary of State Jesse White has refused to sign the appointment by Gov. Rod Blagojevich because of corruption charges against the governor, which included accusations he tried to sell the seat.

"At this point we've clearly reached an impasse," Durbin told reporters at his Chicago office.

He said the Senate seat could remain vacant until Blagojevich is removed from office and the lieutenant governor takes over, making a fresh appointment.

He said the Senate cannot waive a 125-year-old rule requiring the signatures of both the governor and the secretary of state on any election or appointment.

(Reporting by Andrew Stern; editing by Michael Conlon and John O'Callaghan)

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