December 12, 2008

Using the courts to oust Blagojevich on the theory that he's "disabled" from serving as governor.

Illinois AG Lisa Madigan makes the move to oust Blagojevich that we were talking about yesterday.
Madigan said that she took the action with the Supreme Court because she thinks that this is a faster way to strip Blagojevich of his power than through impeachment, which could take several weeks.

"I recognize that this is an extraordinary request, but these are extraordinary circumstances," Madigan said at a news conference.
Oh, the irony! Grabbing power to oust someone for grabbing power. As noted in yesterday's post, Madigan is relying on this language in the state constitution:
If the Governor is unable to serve because of death, conviction on impeachment, failure to qualify, resignation or other disability, the office of Governor shall be filled by the officer next in line of succession for the remainder of the term or until the disability is removed.
Madigan has to argue that Blago's troubles amount to "other disability." Given that "conviction on impeachment" is one of the specified reasons for inability to serve, using this procedure as an alternative to the impeachment process looks like an abusive power grab.
It is the first time in Illinois history that such an action was taken. The attorney general is applying a rule that was intended to cover cases where a governor is incapacitated for health reasons. Her motion indicates that his inability to serve because of the scandal is akin to a debilitating health issue.
Much as I am willing to believe Blago is unfit for office, I think it's obvious that Madigan's effort should fail. Does anyone in Illinois government know how to use power appropriately?
The decision to go to the state's highest court was not welcomed by everyone. Democratic Rep. Jack Franks said it would set "a dangerous precedent" for the court to remove a governor as Madigan proposes. Franks, a fierce Blagojevich critic, said that kind of decision should be left to the General Assembly.
Franks is right. Now, get on the task.

ADDED: I react to the oral argument before the state supreme court.

66 comments:

DenisEugeneSullivan said...

Greetings:

What's even more interesting is that Ms. Madigan, the Illinois Attorney General, wanted to fill President-elect Obama's previous US Senate seat.

al said...

It's Illinois. The government doesn't know how to do anything properly.

Methadras said...

Is he Polish? Because if he is, I think that would explain a lot. Either that or he has that dreaded genetic corruption disease called IWantMineNow-itis.

JohnAnnArbor said...

The Gov. is Serbian.

And one wonders if this case has a chance if you get it before judges who believe in a "living Constitution" and such. You know, reading the actual laws to mean what they say being so inconvenient, sometimes.

Smilin' Jack said...

All this could have been so easily avoided. When Blago was first arrested they should have put him in a holding cell with Bubba, who would give him some real disability.

the wolf said...

Does anyone in Illinois government know how to use power appropriately?

Forget it, Ann. It's Chinatown.

Buford Gooch said...

"Does anyone in Illinois government know how to use power appropriately?"

Well, in Illinois, we have a different view of "appropriately". What Blago is doing is nothing new, he's just one of the stupidest practitioners of the art. He got caught, with very little deniability.

The Drill SGT said...

Their constitution prescribes a clear process; Impeachment.

Since the AG refuses to allow that to happen, I doubt that the Court is going to buy this creative approach. Particularly when it absolves her father of the dirty job, he's the Speaker of the House, of Impeaching Blag.

Adding in the fact that she is one of the candidates in the Blag Senate seat Auction....

It stinks, like all their politics

10ksnooker said...

Laws and due process mean little to Democrats. Isn't the proper procedure you have the House impeach and then have a Senate trial. But then that would take weeks if not months and Blago has to get under the bus right now .... LOL

Was Blago sane on November 3 and just suffered a sudden relapse after being indicted. Inquiring minds would like to know.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Was Blago sane on November 3 and just suffered a sudden relapse after being indicted. Inquiring minds would like to know.

We need to know the date of his last haircut.

reader_iam said...

Oh, the irony! Grabbing power to oust someone for grabbing power.

I repeat my comment from yesterday ...

reader_iam said...

Given that Blagojevich's actions reek of and reflect an entitled sense of non-accountability, it strikes me as a very bad plan to remove him via any method that permits others within that culture to duck accountability. I'm with Stodder: Use #1) the impeachment process or #2) the voting process. The appropriate, relevant judicial branch process (#3) already has its wheels in motion via the criminal justice system.

I'm not for door #4. Can someone provide me with some compelling grounds for reconsidering that?
9:00 PM

... on the grounds that it referred to a similar, though not the same, irony and the pernicious effects thereof.

reader_iam said...

We want to stop a culture in which politicians let each other off the hook with the least possible risk, pain and accountability! Let's do that via a method which minimizes risk, pain and accountability to politicians!

Oh, and by the way, bleep you, you bleepin' average citizens, you. Bleep the bleep off. Don't you bleepin' bleeps know we do it all for you? I mean, for bleep's sake! Bleep, man!

reader_iam said...

An observation: eight "bleeps" in variation do not even one "fuck" make. Not even clustered. Fancy that.

Seven Machos said...

I was discussing this yesterday with a fellow Illinois resident. The problem here is that the alleged corruption is utterly and blatantly wrong and immoral and illegal, and that Blago possibly doesn't understand this.

Alternatively, it's possible that he does understand and that he knows that he can take down virtually anyone from the state with power that he wants, including Obama.

Having noted these two things, Althouse is 100 percent correct. Madigan is being an idiot, particularly since the charges are unproven. All we have here is an indictment. Blago should step down, but he is certainly under no obligation to step down.

Unlike the rest of you, I am confident that judges at every level here will get this one right.

Steven said...

Since the AG refuses to allow that to happen,

It's more that the father of the AG, the Illinois Speaker of the House, would like to get rid of the governor without having to mess with impeachment.

reader_iam said...

Steven: How dare you bleepin' suggest that!

; )

Lem said...

Madigan said that she took the action with the Supreme Court because she thinks that this is a faster way to strip Blagojevich of his power than through impeachment, which could take several weeks.

Every season we get these perpetual whiners complaining that the games takes too long, "we got to speed up the game" they say. But then they contradict themselves by asking for the dreaded video replay.

As a purist I say fuck'm.

The fucking game is fine the way it is.

You want speed - go watch fucking NASCAR ;)

Simon said...

Oddly enough, I wrote a post the day this broke, asking if Blago was still the Governor of Illinois, relying on the same language from the State Constitution. When I wrote it, I didn't know that Blago had been released; if he was actually in jail, I think there would be a very strong argument that with no further action, someone else would be the acting governor.

The gist of it is that "disabled" can't simply mean what the ADA, for example, defines the term to mean. It would be absurd to read the language to refer to disability in the usual sense; you run into the overinclusivity/underinclusivity problem. Such a reading would imply that a dyslexic governor would be ousted from office as soon as she took the oath of office, and that should the governor be in a coma, or held hostage overseas, he would have to be impeached before anyone could act as governor. That's preposterous, and it makes far more sense to read the term as referring to an incapacity to discharge the functions of the office. A governor who is in a coma, or held incommunicado, or who is missing, or, yes, who is in prison is incapable of running the state, and should be held to be "disabled" quite aside from any collateral impeachment activities. Whether a governor who is functionally if not literally under federal indictment pending trial and guilty verdict should be considered disabled is a closer question, but I would say that they're still capable of running the government and so aren't disabled.

peter hoh said...

I suppose that being f*(#in@ stupid is a disability sufficient to warrant removal from office.

I look forward to this standard being applied far and wide.

Simon said...

JohnAnnArbor said...
"[R]eading the actual laws to mean what they say being so inconvenient, sometimes."

That's not a very satisfying rejoinder when the key term in the law at issue - "disabled" - is ambiguous. (I don't think that Althouse's note about impeachment being an alternative criterion is particularly satisfying either; the text plainly contemplates temporary suspension of gubernatorial authority, depriving that argument of most of its force.)

Bob said...

My former Governor, Spitzer, showed a miniscule amount of class and simply resigned after a long weekend. His wife showed a lot of class and we all felt for her. Then our other state politicians managed to act like adults for a week.

Illinois appears to be triply cursed with clowns acting as politicians in Governor and amongst its state execs. Plus the first lady appears to be the polar opposite of Silda. Who knew New Yorkers would be able to say Spitzer handled his exit well in comparison. Still there is New Jersey you could shoot for...

Lem said...

You got to Drudge.

"THE SILENCE OF THE RAHM"

"RAHM IN THE MIDDLE"

I got one.

"RAHM AT THE MOON" or

"EMMANUEL - DODGE RAHM WITH US"

LarsPorsena said...

Let's see..first they roll Rezko, then they roll Blag, then ....

Who is the next domino?

reader_iam said...

ALERT: This is OT, so ignore (delete) or whatever. However, I found this post upon which I just stumbled to be ... interesting: that is to say, in this case, worth a bit o' thought, though in whatever directions.

/OT

The Drill SGT said...

All we have here is an indictment. Blago should step down, but he is certainly under no obligation to step down.

He's be an idiot (I know he really is one, but) to step down until he plea bargains. His office is th only thing of value he has to trade.

and trades he understands

Trooper York said...

You should just have him whacked. That's what we would do in Brooklyn.

Seven Machos said...

The office of governor is a valuable fuckin' thing. You just don't give it away for nothin'.

Seven Machos said...

I thought in Brooklyn you have high-priced call girls fly down to Washington for your governor.

Lem said...

I'm going to come clean ;)

I want Blago there come Jan 20th as a cloud clinging over the Obamapalooza.

There, I've said it.

Jack said...

You have to check this out: A search engine for the wingnutosphere:

Search Wingnut Blogs

It's a custom Google Search that only indexes the wingnut blogs. Not only entertaining, but a useful tool.

Trooper York said...

That's Manhattan Seven. We don't have any high priced call girls in Brooklyn.

Just middle class ho's.

But they are too classy to bang Spitzer. That's why they had to get a bitch from Jersey.

reader_iam said...

What I'm listening to, in case anyone is interested, is blasts from the past in tribute to our present (and future?) in the forms of The Cars and The Hooters.

Eli Blake said...

A few days ago I posted a link to Eric Zorn's column in which he suggested (or at least quoted others suggesting) that the Governor is mentally deranged.

At the time I asked,

"the insanity defense for political corruption?"

But it may be that that is exactly Madigan's ticket.

Trooper York said...

Richard Widmark is the only Madigan I respect.

Seven Machos said...

Leave it to leftists to suggest that greed is a psychosis.

reader_iam said...

Damnit, Troop: LOL.

reader_iam said...

Is this close enough? (I admit to being a little frustrated.)

Hucbald said...

"...an abusive power grab."

Which is different from what all lawyers do every day in what way, exactly?

Trooper York said...

Right on the money reader. The best part about that movie is the way it showed the dynamics of marraige in the sixties. It was a cops and robbers movie from the old school. When Madigans wife goes to the Policemans ball by herself and gets tanked up and is hit on by Madigan's friend, man that was the way it was back then.

Trooper York said...

Scotch and remorse and anger are a deadly witches brew.

betsybounds said...

"The Gov. is Serbian."
Pfui. The governor is American.

As are we all, God help us.

I've been thinking, and saying to any who would listen, for some time now that we are witnessing a slow-motion coup, implemented by the Democrats. This is just another step in the process. Hang on. It's goon to be a boompy ride.

Trooper York said...

And by the way, Madigan's wife, definitely a little frustrated.

Dave Hardy said...

From news accounts (never reliable) it sounds as if she's claiming the judicial oughta remove the executive because she can't certify to lenders that he's entitled to sign for the State due to a pending legal action.

There is no pending legal action until a bill of impeachment is filed. At that time she can certify that. It might be full disclosure, but I cannot see how it affects his power, as of today, to enter into a loan contract for the State. If Bill Clinton had been convicted rather than acquitted on the impeachment charges, would every bill he signed or vetoed have been done or undone, retroactively, to the date the bill of impeachment was filed?

I'm sure governors have been impeached before. Here in AZ within my lifetime two were convicted and impeached, as I recall (neither, thankfully, for official corruption. One on rather flimsy legal charges because he was an idiot giving us a bad name, the other because of private banking fraud and conviction). I don't recall that anyone argued their official acts prior to removal were rendered void.

Simon said...

betsybounds said...
"I've been thinking, and saying to any who would listen, for some time now that we are witnessing a slow-motion coup, implemented by the Democrats. This is just another step in the process."

Wouldn't it be an odd step in a Democratic coup to expose and oust a Democratic governor from office?

PatCA said...

I heard John Kass of the Tribune tonight say she filed the case because she doesn't want Blago to testify (and blow the whistle on her and her Dad, another Chicago pol). Apparently she wants to be governor, so she can't afford the bad press.

It's like the Mafia or the Borgias or Russia or something!

Simon said...

Pat - quite. And since we just elected their new favorite son to the leadership of the free world, we are left to hope that the apple fell an unprecedented distance from the tree.

betsybounds said...

Simon:

Yes. Well.

They did not mean this to happen. But no coup is free of loose cannons or unintended complications. The Russians/Bolsheviks, or if we must go back to them the French, would be happy to tell you that.

It is a bit odd, and uncharacteristic, that they would cut one of their own loose. But they are invested in preserving their leader from taint--they are that close to winning the day.

The point is, I think, that they will both increase their power and preserve the purity of their leader by cutting Blago loose.

It's all part of the syndicate, and everybody gets a share.

betsybounds said...

Just for starters--does anyone imagine that Blago will be replaced by anything other than a Democrat?

Johnny C said...

Kass is right, what people on the outside don't understand is that it is Lisa's manifest destiny to be governor and that nothing can stop that. If Quinn (who seems a decent sort) gets in, he may actually have a shot at re-election in two years. The machine/combine will not allow that to happen - period.

I know one thing - if Quinn changed an A- to an A+ on his third grade geography quiz; it'll be front page news. The machine will not be denied.

People ask what would it take to de-corrupt Illinois/Chicago politics?

About 15-20 thousand rounds.

Seven Machos said...

Betsy -- While I don't like Democrats, your hyperbole is doing nothing to help the conservative/libertarian cause (unless I am missing sarcasm).

I don't think the Democrats are really very happy about any of this, and the system is working the way it should. Greedy, corrupt hack with truly awful haircut gets his comeuppance. Isn't that the narrative?

The Drill SGT said...

Just for starters--does anyone imagine that Blago will be replaced by anything other than a Democrat?

well the LT Gov is a Demo so that is a foregone conclusion in the short term, but the previous Governor was GOP, (course he's in jail also).

The new senator? perhaps a Rep can carry the seat.

Dave said...

Simon, Blago has been crosswise of most of the Democrats in the legislature (bar Emil Jones) since before his re-election. While they'd undoubtedly have liked to remove him, they haven't tried.

OTOH, I'm reasonably sure that now that he has been indicted they want the fewest possible rocks turned over.

Rezko could be bad. Blago, especially given his Delusions of Adequacy [he's considered himself presidential timber from the get go while Michael Barone {on his blog} calls Blago the stupidest governor he's known in 40 years of study] could be way worse if he decides to rat enough people out.

Who knows what he knows from his relationship to his father-in-law, Councilman Dick Mell, or his time in US House.

cf said...

It is a preposterous overreaching by Madigan.

Add to that she herself was named as a potential candidate for the Senate seat for sale which makes this move particularly unseemly, and as this blogger notes her representations have now put her and the state in a major bind if the Court rejects it (and it should) .http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2008/12/illinois-attorney-general-boxes-state.html(h/t Instapundit)

Maybe she studied Con Law at Northwestern with Professor Bernardine Dohrn.

reader_iam said...

Please don't tell me, folks, that anyone wants or means to imply--as even a reflex, much less as a surety--that if only those Chicago/Illinois in-charge politicos were Republican, all would be well. Please. If the current situation isn't enough to make people think about cultural politics--as well as political culture, a distinct thing--in broader terms than what's in it for your sister-daughter, father-grandpa, or what-have-you abomination, then I'm not sure what would.

Seven Machos said...

Sure it's a culture of corruption, Reader. Democrats have been in charge of the primate city roughly since incorporation. What do you expect?

judyG said...

when rezko was indicted, a list in the chicago tribune named the bribees accompanied by their $ payoffs. amongst the elite chicago pols, rezko would get kudos for not forgetting anyone. similarly, the blago thing while awful, just isn't serious. he sounds like a 1940's film noir gangster, only with bleeps. good thing he didn't push his wheelchair bound grandmother down the stairs, ala richard widmark, and then sell the chair.

reader_iam said...

OK, 7M. You win.

Cedarford said...

Madigan is not going too far out of field, drawing on the recent Gov John Rowland and Spitzer cases.

And her statement of public record is she did not seek the Senator position, had had no talks with Blagojevich for over a year. So her simply being on a list does not taint her actions...

In Spitzer's case, and in Rowlands, prosecutors convinced both of them that they had the goods, and stubbornly fighting resignation would require them to give compelled testimony in impeachment proceedings that could then be used as evidence in a criminal trial - Which prosecutors of course said was those 2 gov's right to insist on - but that they would throw the book at the Govs and go for full criminal charges unless they plead, then of course resigned with acceptance of guilt in doing the plea.

In Rowland's case, the AG's office went to the CT Supreme Court to convene an inquiry:

On June 18, the Connecticut Supreme Court required Rowland to appear before the investigative panel seeking his testimony, which could have resulted in him giving evidence against impeachment under oath that could come back against him in the ongoing criminal investigation. (A perjury trap) On June 21, Rowland's lawyers announced that he would resign. The resignation went into effect at noon on July 1.

Madigan's "incapacity" gambit seems pretty sophomoric..she should just ask the Illinois Supremes to require Blagojevich to give testimony in advance of impeachment on a range of laid out impeachment charges to help "guide" legislators as to what is in dispute...But of course the real aim is force the guy to protect his ass from a long jail stretch if he thinks he is nailed in crimes he cannot wriggle off the hook on. If you are Rowland, Spitzer, or Blago if he is as sane as those guys or his Chief of Staff who just resigned today - you don't want to give criminal prosecutors more reason to hang you by perjuring yourself in pre-impeachment testimony ordered under oath by your State's highest court...

AllenS said...

Again, I'm sticking up for Blago. He knew he had something valuable and tried to cash in. Bill and Hillary sold sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom, and nobody cared, except for maybe Rush Limbaugh. What's the diff?

Look at the promotion and raise that Michelle Obama received, and look at what Barack was doing for her place of employment.

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Issob Morocco said...

Silly, naive Ann, first you wondered what was wrong with Illinois, now you wonder if anyone in Illinois goverment knows how to use power appropriately. What makes you think they are not doing what is appropriate? Your question is subjective. What is appropriate in a less corrupt state will not match up well to a corrupt state, like say, Illinois.

A primer for those who reside in a state other than Illinois is that Blago was appropriate to grab as much for himself as he could. Look at his measly salary, and how he could not just live on that alone. As for femme fatale Madigan, well it is appropriate for her to sharp elbow Blago so she can steamroll to the Springfield residence in 2 years.

As for her father, Squire Madigan, well it is very appropriate not to use the tools the legislature has at its disposal to remove Blago. That would be messy, open back room doors and allow taxpayers, er voters to see what really goes on under the guise of representative government in the Land of Corruption.

No Ann, you fail to understand what the disability truly is. The disability is that the Corrupt Party of Illinois (with representative Democrat and Republican wings) is now under scrutiny. Back room deals have screeched to halt. No more dinners at Italian Steakhouses to divvy up and spread the spoils of federal and state monies. Those wiretaps have disabled the politicians from being able to do business as usual. Contrary to your view, Femme Fatale Madigan has a very strong case in Illinois politics that Blago has created a disability. MSM has, as usual, unwittingly abided, by calling the government paralyzed. Not the DMV, State Troopers, Welfare workers, but the truly important State workers, the politicians.

Christmas Cheers!

Continuum said...

What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"? So, far the only proof given, have been statements by the Federal prosecutor. Last time I checked, the governor has not been found guilty of anything. The Illinois Attorney General is abusing her authority. Her request will be quickly thrown out of court as the proper action would be impeachment by the legislature and NOT on the whim of another elected official.

Issob Morocco said...

Continuum, you are dead on right. That is why Blago will stay in office. All of the others want him to leave so as to take the spotlight off of how things get done in Illinois.

I am asking my neighbors if they have a Blago yard sign still around as I would like to put it up. As far as this Illinois voter is concerned, even though I didn't vote for him, I think he is the appropriate Governor that the Illinois voters deserve in that office, until he is convicted, if he is. They voted him, now live with it!!

Christmas Cheers!

Ann Althouse said...

I'm feeling the pro-Blagojevich backlash.

Who are these people who think they are so much better than him? I don't know that they are better.

I'm not ready to put up a Blagojevich yard sign, but I understand the feeling...

PEACE>>>>> said...

What's truly amazing,and not being discussed at all,is the fact that every Democrat in the country is screaming "get rid of Blago!".Gee,I don't EVER remember the Democrats eating one of their own this quickly in my entire lifetime.Dems always stand by their own,no matter the allegations........so,I can only conclude that they are SCARED TO DEATH that Blago has the goods on Mr.Obama,and/or Emanuel Rahm (and we all know he does).Hello,President Biden!

Issob Morocco said...

Hi Ann, consider the Blago yard sign a tweak on the nose for those who just recently hailed him and previously voted for him because he was, ah, ah, a Democrat.

Sometimes the best medicine for a bad action is to have to live with it. Kind of like a slum lord forced to live in his own building.

Christmas Cheers!