Illinois’ Attorney General moved today to disconnect Governor Rod Blagojevich from executive power through the judiciary today, rather than wait for the legislature to act. Lisa Madigan filed a motion with the Illinois Supreme Court finding Blagojevich “unfit for office.” That would not impeach Blagojevich per se, but it would force executive power into the hands of Lt. Governor Pat Quinn:
The Illinois attorney general has filed a motion with the state’s highest court asking justices to remove scandal-plagued Gov. Rod Blagojevich (bluh-GOY’-uh-vich) from office.
Lisa Madigan took the action Friday as pressure on the governor intensified to step down. The motion challenges his fitness to serve and asks that the Supreme Court oust him.
Madigan scheduled a news conference in Chicago Friday morning to discuss the motion.
Reports do not include what defect Madigan will use to argue for unfitness. Normally, one would expect that to rely on a mental or physical defect so obvious that the Supreme Court would have to intervene immediately rather than rely on the legislature. We’ve speculated that Blagojevich had to be crazy to think he could get away with the kind of corruption he planned to commit, but that’s a form of political insanity, not a mental defect.
While I sympathize with Madigan’s motives, this is the wrong approach. The judiciary should not be the judge of political questions. That responsibility lies with the legislature, which can act immediately if it chooses. The court will also have to consider the fact that the defects Madigan will use — the wiretap evidence — has yet to be tested in a trial. They really have no basis on which to make this ruling as a matter of law, and that’s the limit of their jurisdiction.
The Illinois state legislature should open a session immediately and remove Blagojevich’s authority, either temporarily or permanently. This is a political question, at least at the moment, and that falls entirely within their purview as the representatives of Illinois citizens.