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Burris Asks Court to Force Certification of Senate Appointment

CHICAGO -- The battle intensified Wednesday over Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appointment to Barack Obama's old Senate seat as the governor's choice, Roland Burris, asked a court to force Secretary of State Jesse White to certify his appointment. 

The move comes after White rejected Blagojevich's proclamation naming Burris to the Senate and said he wouldn't sign off on appointments by Blagojevich, who was arrested earlier this month on federal corruption charges. The governor says he's innocent.

Burris also said Wednesday that he stands behind his past criticism of the governor, but he refused to say whether Blagojevich should resign. He also said he didn't press Blagojevich for an explanation of the federal corruption charges before deciding to accept his appointment to the Senate.

"That is none of my business. Absolutely not," Burris said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm not interested in the charges against him. I have nothing to do with that."

Burris plans to be in Washington next week when new senators are sworn in, but he won't make a scene if he's turned away by Senate leaders who object to his appointment.

"That is not my style. I am not seeking to be confrontational," said the 71-year-old Burris. "I'm not showboating or styling to try to be making points for somebody. That's not me."

Blagojevich announced Tuesday that he wanted Burris, the former Illinois attorney general, to fill the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama.

His decision stunned many because Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 for scheming to benefit from his power to name a senator. Officials from all parts of the political spectrum then urged Blagojevich not to appoint anyone, and U.S. Senate leaders said they would reject anyone he named.

Shortly after Blagojevich's arrest, Burris said the charges outlined "appalling" and "reprehensible" behavior. He applauded an effort by the attorney general to have the courts remove Blagojevich, saying the governor could no longer do his job.

Burris said Wednesday that he "absolutely" stands by those statements.

But he also said that Blagojevich can continue performing his duties, such as appointing a new senator, and he refused to take a position on whether the governor should resign.

"That's his decision, so my thought on that wouldn't amount to a hill of beans," Burris said.

Burris repeatedly said that Blagojevich's appointment means he is already the state's new senator, even though he hasn't been sworn in.

Burris said he hadn't yet tried to contact the top two Democrats in the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. Both men, along with their Democratic colleagues, say they will refuse to seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich.

Burris was vague on how he plans to change their minds. He said friends are studying the legal precedents for this situation and that he and his supporters will be calling Senate Democrats to lobby for their support, but he wouldn't identify any of these supporters or discuss his plans in detail.

The Senate, Burris predicted, ultimately will accept his appointment because it's legal and because he's not linked to the Blagojevich scandal. Burris insisted that being named to the Senate by Blagojevich doees said when one officer pushed Tolan's mother up against a wall of the house, Tolan leaned up to complain about the treatment and was shot.
Holloway described it as an "altercation ... as officers attempted to detain and question" the pair.