Harry Reid is refusing to seat Roland Burris because Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White will not sign a certificate complying with Senate Rule 2. Reid made the following statement justifying his position:

And we have a situation here that we’ve had a rule in effect since 1884 here in the Senate, that for a person to be appointed by a governor, you have to have the signature of the governor and the secretary of state.

Senator Reid is wrong. The Senate has seated an appointee without the signature of a Secretary of State. Illinipundit has alerted me to the fact that Alaska has no Secretary of State, yet Frank Murkowski appointed his daughter Lisa to his Senate post when he became Governor in 2003. Since there is no Alaska Secretary of State, there is no way that Murkowski could have presented a certification signed by the “Secretary of State” of Alaska, as Reid says is an absolute requirement for a Senate-appointee to be seated. Here is the page from the congressional record reflecting Lisa Murkowski’s appointment. No indication of a signature by a “Secretary of State.”

Other states which do not have a Secretary of State are Hawaii and Utah, and in three states (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia) the title is Secretary of the Commonwealth. Under Harry Reid’s literal reading of Senate Rule 2, six states are ineligible to seat an appointee to a vacant Senate seat.

Do you want to change your story again, Harry?

UPDATE: Senator Richard “Dick” Durbin doesn’t know what he is talking about either:

We are hoping that, at the end of the day, if there is a court order and a mandamus, that the secretary of state would certify the signature of Governor Blagojevich and then comply completely with Senate rules.

As Majority Leader Reid has told you, this has been a rule in the United States Senate since 1884. And since 1917, when we started the popular election of the senators, we have never, ever waived this rule for any election or appointment.

Everyone has to present a certificate, signed by the governor, cosigned by the secretary of state, never been waived in the history of the United States Senate. So it’s an important rule and one not easily challenged or changed. [Italics added.]