BURRIS TAKES A STEP CLOSER TO THE SENATE…. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled yesterday that it can’t force Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to certify Roland Burris’ Senate appointment, but it doesn’t really matter, the justices said, because Burris doesn’t really need the certification for the appointment to be legitimate.

The Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate said Burris isn’t going anywhere without certification. Last night, White made Harry Reid’s job a little tougher when he went ahead, reversed course, and certified the appointment.

Former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris (D) was one step closer Friday evening to succeeding President-elect Barack Obama as his state’s junior Senator, following Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s (D) move to certify the appointment by embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

White’s signature approving the appointment came hours after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that White’ signature of certification was not necessary for the governor’s appointee to be considered legally able to take office as Senator.

Harry Reid really wanted to punt this mess to officials in Illinois. The officials have clearly punted it right back.

The Politico noted that White’s decision “leaves Burris and the Democrats in much the same positions as they held at the beginning of the week — with Burris claiming he’s entitled to take Obama’s vacant Senate seat, and Democrats grappling over whether to accept the appointment.”

Reid spokesman Jim Manley told reporters, “The Senate Parliamentarian, the Secretary of the Senate and Senate Legal Counsel are advising Senate Leadership as we consider a way forward.”

At this point, I’m not sure what more there is to mull over. Reid and Durbin said a few days ago that Burris would be in good shape if he testified to the state impeachment committee and got his appointment certified by the Illinois Secretary of State. Burris seems to have checked these items off his to-do list.

In a story with this many twists and turns, it’s hard to say what’ll happen next, but the Politico piece argued that the Senate Democratic leadership “misread the governor’s willingness to say a ‘big F-you’ to the Senate, in the words of one top aide, just as they later underestimated Burris’ ego and willingness to engage in open political warfare to get his seat.”

Sounds about right.

Update: In an apparent attempt to make this as complicated as possible, there’s actualy a question about whether White “certified” the appointment. Roll Call and the Politico both reported that he did. But now it appears what White signed last night was actually just an acknowledgement that Blagojevich filed the document relating to the appointment. The document is titled “Certificate,” and White signed that last night, but as far as White is concerned he still hasn’t “certified” anything.

Have I mentioned how much I hate this story?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.