Yesterday, the United States Senate refused to seat Roland Burris, who has been appointed by Governor Rod Blagojevich. I find this troubling since the Governor hasn't been convicted of anything and since there is no indication that Burris has done anything improper.
I can understand why Senate Democratic leaders want to distance themselves from the allegations concerning Blagojevich. They don't want to give Republicans a weapon to use against them in the upcoming months. Still, in the United States there is a presumption of innocence and, despite the willingness of the media to convict someone in the court of public opinion without any kind of hearing, it even applies to politicians.
Here you have a Governor who has been accused but not convicted of anything appointing a man, who hasn't been linked to any wrongdoing by the Governor, to the United States Senate. An appointment that he is allowed to make under the Illinois constitution. It seems to me that the appointment ought to be recognized and accepted by the Democratic leaders in the Senate.
Is there is a political risk in accepting Burris's appointment? Sure, but it is less of a risk than undermining one of America's cherished constitutional protections.