03/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Lisa Madigan OK's Early Senate Election That Could Remove Burris

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the General Assembly can constitutionally pass a law that moves up the date of the next election for President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

State Republicans sought Madigan's opinion, issued Wednesday night, which comes as controversy swirls around Sen. Roland Burris' appointment.

Voters are scheduled to vote for Obama's successor in a February 2010 primary and November 2010 general election. But the GOP wants a May 26 election -- effectively kicking Burris out of he doesn't win.

Madigan says neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Illinois Constitution would prohibit moving up the election. In her opinion, the 17th Amendment shows a "clear preference" for Senators to be chosen by direct popular election.

Currently, Illinois' governor has the power to fill Senate vacancies.