Friday, December 12, 2008

Can She Do It?

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, one of the potential Senate candidates named in the government's complaint against Gov. Rod Blagoyevich, petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court to remove him from office temporarily due to disability. Her emergency petition reads:

“enter emergency injunctive relief enjoining Mr. Blagojevich from acting as Governor and naming Lieutenant Governor as Acting Governor until such time as the Court resolves the merits of this action or otherwise determines that such disability has been removed.”

The provision of the Illinois Constitution under which Madigan's petition is based has always understood "disability" to mean "physical or mental." Essentially, she's asking the court to remove him from power even before a full hearing on his "disablity" is considered. So what "disability" does the governor suffer from? Madigan's petition reads:

The pervasive nature, volume, and severity of the illegal acts charged in the complaint indicate that Mr. Blagojevich is unable to distinguish between his financial interests and his official duties and between illegal and legal conduct, rendering him incapable of legitimately exercising his authority as Governor. The nature and volume of those acts clearly evidence a disability that has rendered Mr. Blagojevich unable to serve.

Well, if that's the standard, then at least half of Illinois' elected officials could be susceptible of being unable to separate their financial interests and their official duties, or understanding the difference between illegal and legal conduct. It seems to me Madigan is treading in very dangerous territory. At least she isn't going so far as to claim the governor suffers from a mental disability as the Obama camp would prefer she argue. I understand her desire to quickly remove the governor from office, but the Illinois Constitution provides an impeachment mechanism to deal with this situation. Illinois lawmakers exercised this provision to remove an Illinois Supreme Court judge several years ago. Madigan's own father, Speaker Mike Madigan, initiated those proceedings and can initiate similar proceedings against the governor. Sure, that process could take a few months, but the Attorney General can only blame her own father for the delay. Many had urged him to initiate impeachment proceedings months ago after damning testimony emerged during the trial of Tony Rezko. The truth is that Illinois Democrats were more interested in keeping Illinois corruption under raps during the presidential election to protect Barack Obama than dealing with Blagoyevich. Now, the people of Illinois are left to deal with a messy but necessary impeachment process, short of the governor simply doing the right thing and stepping down.

As an aside, Madigan is considered a favorite to take Obama's place in the Senate. If she succeeds in her petition, will Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn appoint her after assuming the duties of governor? Or will her father still have to fast-track legislation requiring a special election for the seat at which she could stand for election? Quinn says he opposes a special election. He may want to appoint Madigan to the seat for no other reason than it would allow him to appoint a new attorney general to take her place.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, I really doubt that Madigan's idea will work. Impeachment is the vehicle they have to ride. It's not a fast vehicle, but there is absolutely no legal reason why it has to be dragged out to be more than a few days at the most. It's slam dunk impeachment.

jeanniejo said...

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Gary R. Welsh said...

I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. Supreme Court judges in Illinois are elected. Madigan's father sits down with the trial lawyers to hand pick them.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why Quinn wants Blago out, so he can appoint himself to the Senate.

It's what I would do, rather than linger in an office that had been tainted where I'd be remembered as a sidekick to the guy that got impeached.

Vox Populi said...

I think Quinn would be eager to appoint Madigan if only to remove her as an opponent when he runs for election in 2010.

Patriot Paul said...

Define 'disability'. Where is the handicap in his decision making? If anything,he outfoxed himself, but "disability"? What about 'bad faith' to say the least. Who has been harmed? Conspiracy to commit...? what. Where is the crime? specify what was the violation of the oath of office.