The Illinois General Assembly can constitutionally pass a law that moves up the date of the next election for President Barack Obama's former Senate seat, said Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
State Republicans sought Madigan's opinion, issued late Wednesday night, which came as controversy swirls around Sen. Roland Burris' appointment.
Voters are scheduled to pick Obama's successor in a February 2010 primary and November 2010 general election. But the state GOP wants a May 26 election -- effectively kicking Burris out of he doesn't win.
Neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Illinois Constitution would prohibit moving up the election, Madigan said.
"Indeed, a law providing the people of Illinois with an opportunity to elect a U.S. Senator would be entirely consistent with the purpose and the text of the 17th Amendment," Madigan said. "That amendment announces a clear preference for selecting U.S. Senators by direct popular election."
"A temporary appointee to the U.S. Senate has no right that prevents the General Assembly from passing legislation to enable the people to elect their U.S. Senator," she said.