More on the Illinois Attorney General's Asking the Illinois Supreme Court to Remove Gov. Blagojevich:

Here's the brief laying out the Attorney General's arguments and the motion for temporary relief pending a final decision, asking the court to "temporarily and preliminarily enjoin[ Mr. Blagojevich] from acting as Governor." Note that Abner Mikva — a former Congressman, D.C. Circuit Judge, and Clinton White House Counsel, as well as an advisor of President-Elect Obama's — is on the brief.

Mikva was also a monitor in the 2004 Ukrainian elections, which reminds me of a joke I had heard in the 1990s.

Thanks to Keith Blackwell for the pointer.

UPDATE: Here's the heart of the AG's argument about why Gov. Blagojevich should be removed for "disability" (the legal test) (PDF p. 15):

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 acts 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. As a result of the federal complaint relating to his official acts, Mr. Blagojevich's future official acts -- many of which are the subject of the federal complaint -- will be subject to challenge as illegal or improperly motivated. Because the integrity of Mr. Blagojevich's future official acts will be in question, his ability to provide effective leadership has been eliminated and the state government is paralyzed.

Given the serious criminal charges that he faces, it is also very likely that Mr. Blagojevich's future official actions will not be calculated to advance the best interests of the People, but rather will necessarily be designed to improve his public standing and position with regard to the pending criminal charges. Furthermore, Mr. Blagojevich clearly will not be able to devote his attention to his official duties because of the pending charges and likely criminal trial.

Further, Mr. Blagojevich's ability to borrow money in his official capacity is compromised. The State has postponed a $1.4 billion short-term debt offering because of the uncertainty over whether the State can provide the necessary accompanying certification that no threatened or pending controversy or litigation challenge Mr. Blagojevich's title to office. The State is also at risk of having its bond rating lowered due to concerns over the pending criminal charges.

Here's more on the bond rating item.

Good joke -- I like that one.
12.12.2008 3:54pm
Calling All Lawyers: Many folks here are familiar with police &FBI procedure. All I know is what I see on TV dramas, where the FBI always wants to keep callers on the line so that they can trace the caller. Is that done on wiretaps in real life? Does the FBI know the telephone numbers of those involved in Blago's 'phone "negotiations"?

Will the names of those who are on the call list be spelled out in public documents?
12.12.2008 4:10pm
Steve H:
I dunno. It makes me nervous to think that "being accused of a crime by a prosecutor of the opposing party" = "disability".

To be clear, I have no doubt that Blago is a guilty scumbag who should be removed, and I do not believe for a second that Fitzgerald is making this all up. But it seems like anyone with the power to remove him should see some actual evidence first.
12.12.2008 4:12pm
notaclue (mail):
Steve H is right. I'm no friend of the Governor either, but this plan sounds like impeachment lite, an end run around the cumbersome process of legally removing an elected official
12.12.2008 4:19pm
MarkField (mail):
Much as I think Blago should go, the proper remedy seems like impeachment. Judges shouldn't be making these calls.
12.12.2008 4:20pm
John (mail):
They are saying that, in effect, BECAUSE those allegations are true (with nothing to support the supposition), the gov is a maniac and therefore disabled.

It is inconceivable to me that a court would use such reasoning. Surely a conspiracy of lawprofs must have a view on this...
12.12.2008 4:27pm
loki13 (mail):
I'm having trouble following thi complaint.

So being charged with a crime is a disability?

So why isn't Blago the Blimpaler covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Can he still be guv'nur if he wears a helmet to work?
12.12.2008 4:33pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Um, so all you will need in the future is an indictment and the courts will remove a governor.

What could possibly go wrong?
12.12.2008 4:34pm
alkali (mail):
I don't know why the IL legislature can't do a superquick impeachment on the basis of Fitzgerald's indictment alone. The indictment wouldn't be admissible evidence in a court proceeding, but the legislature isn't bound by the rules of evidence.
12.12.2008 4:35pm
The Illinois AG brief is a disgrace. It smacks of the old Soviet Union tactic of declaring dissidents insane on the grounds that no sane person would oppose the Communist party.

The nature and volume of those acts clearly evidence a disability that has rendered Mr. Blagojevich unable to serve.

Blagojevich isn't disabled, he isn't crazy, he is a crook.
12.12.2008 4:37pm
A Law Dawg:
As I feared. As my post in the previous thread made clear, I have no love for the Governor, but a grant of this petition is even more harmful to democracy than the Governor himself is.
12.12.2008 4:47pm
Lisa Madigan is a joke. She's the poster child of nepotism and was also one of those seeking an appointment to Obama's seat. Maybe she should remove herself from office.
12.12.2008 4:51pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
John: "It is inconceivable to me that a court would use such reasoning. Surely a conspiracy of lawprofs must have a view on this..."

Inconceivable? I don't think that word means what you think it means.

12.12.2008 4:56pm
I think we do ourselves a disservice by taking the AG's argument seriously. This is nothing more than partisan maneuvering in an effort to assure that both the Illinois governorship and Mr. Obama's vacated Senate seat remain in Democratic Party hands. If either of those offices have to get filled by a special election in the near future, then all bets are off, because the stink from Blagojevich is going to taint anybody who shares his party affiliation. Therefore a special election must be avoided at all costs: Blagojevich must be unceremoniously kicked to the curb in the most expedient means available, so that Mr. Obama's successor in the Senate is chosen by appointment, and there's some time for the scandal to die down before the Democrats have to face Illinois voters.
12.12.2008 5:03pm
And Lisa's Daddy, Mike, is the Speaker of the Illinois House and a political enemy of Blago's because Blago doesn't give him his way. The only thing I liked about Blago (other than his hair) is that he is a thorn in the side of the State Legislature.
12.12.2008 5:08pm
ARCraig (mail):
To call this a stretch is putting it mildly. I'd even go so far to say that granting this motion would be a much bigger blow against constitutional republicanism in Illinois than Blago selling a Senate seat.
12.12.2008 5:21pm
I'm all for Blago's removal from office, but it should be done in the traditional way -- losing an election or impeachment by duly elected officials. Doing an end-run around that process on the strength of an indictment alone is not a good idea. However guilty I think Blago is, he's still presumed innocent in the eyes of the law, and the courts have no business removing him. Let the state legislature take care of it. That's THEIR job.

I'm also concerned at Madigan doing this, given that she's been publicly considering a gubernatorial run in 2010.
12.12.2008 5:21pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?
12.12.2008 5:31pm
melpol (mail):
The best thing the governor of Illinois can do is to remain in office where he is presently safe from removal. He knows that if he resigns he will become an ordinary citizen that can easily be sent to prison for over twenty years. His stature as governor gives the stories from all his crooked deals validity. That information can bring down political giants and will be used as a bargaining tool. It will get him off the hook if he keeps his mouth shut. Blagojevich will never do a day in prison because he knows where all the bodies are buried.

The desire for money and power is the driving force behind all political leaders. It is naive of the American public to be shocked when one of them is caught breaking the law. They all break the law but most cover their tracks. Politicians pay millions to get a job that often pays only 250 thousand dollars a year. They easily make that money back by selling influence. Knock on the door of any politicians office and you will find Blagojevich.
12.12.2008 5:54pm
John (mail):
Doug Sundseth--

Thanks for the correction. I keep having these crazy thoughts about courts.
12.12.2008 6:03pm
MikeS (mail):
There was a dispute about counting votes in Ukraine, and they asked Justice Scalia for advice in resolving it. The new president of Ukraine is George W. Bush.
12.12.2008 6:05pm
So the essential arguments are: (1) Blago cannot distinguish between his personal financial dealings and his official dealings; (2) he won't work for the Illinois people, but will instead work to help his criminal case and make himself more popular; and (3) the cloud over his head will adversely affect the state's ability to raise debt.

(1) and (2) are endemic in all politicians, the indicted and the (not yet) indicted. (3) is the heart of the matter, but very silly - I wish more states had trouble raising debt because of the low quality of their politicians, but alas, the market lends even the more cretinous money because the security is not the "title" of office but the taxpayers' yoke.

If this thing works, maybe we can start filing disability petitions against pretty much all politicians. At least, that way, the politicians would spend their time fighting for office rather than doing anything in office (and, almost by definition, a politician's official acts are not in the public interest).
12.12.2008 6:22pm
mls (www):
I wish I could think of a good argument in favor of Madigan's brief. But I agree with Steve H et al.
12.12.2008 7:21pm
ericmess (mail):
This is all a bunch of blustering with no real substance as it relates to the governor's ability to appoint. The lawsuit is a joke. The only way that the IL legislature can effectively remove Blago's appointment power is to revoke his ability to appoint an interim senator (The IL Constitution says says the legislature may allow the governor to appoint, but it's not required). There's not enough evidence at this time to impeach. Then they would need a veto-proof majority to hold a special election. But what happens when he sees the writing on the wall and just appoints someone anyway? Or refuses to sign the bill? He'll say I tried and tried and tried to find someone to take this appointment and no one would so I think that I'll just do the job myself.
12.12.2008 8:20pm
NickM (mail) (www):
loki - that IS a helmet on his head.

12.12.2008 9:38pm
corneille1640 (mail):

There's not enough evidence at this time to impeach

It probably depends on the standard of proof the Illinois legislature has to meet. Does anyone here know the standard(s)?
12.12.2008 9:38pm
von (mail) (www):
No a former Chicagoan (albeit current Ill bar membet), so I'll comment: Madigan is well meaning but mistaken, which is not unusual for her. This is the wrong way to go about these things. Blago should be impeached.

(I suspect that Madigan is more-than-half-hoping that he actions will push Blago toward resignation.)

In any event, the real point of the comment: Had the pleasure of using Abner Mikva as a mediator about 5 years ago. (He must be what, 397 years old now now and still spry? Did he throttle Deagal in his youth?) Wonderful guy. Not so great as a mediator in that case, but still.

And great joke.
12.12.2008 10:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
If Blago is insane, that takes some of the onus off those who dealt with him. Can't be responsible for the ravings of a madman.
Nor is a certified frootloop's testimony very convincing.
12.12.2008 10:16pm
The Illinois Constitution provides in Article IV, Section 14:
If the Governor is tried, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside.

Given that impeachment of the governor in the Illinois House and trial in the Illinois Senate is likely, should the Illinois Chief Justice recuse himself in the instant action?

The instant action, of course, proceeds under the original jurisdiction of the Illinois Supreme Court. But if the Chief Justice presides over the court in this action, it might give rise to an appearance of prejudice at trial in the Senate.
12.12.2008 10:19pm
Since the remedy is temporary removal (until the disability is gone) this procedure does not seem so drastic. In IL, never has a sitting governor been tried for crimes, while in office.
12.13.2008 12:02pm
Mr. Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty. An innocent man is NOT disabled from being governor. Disability has to refer to a characteristic of a person, not of public rumors.

If the Illinois legislature is not willing to take the responsibilities and risks that go with impeachement and no jury has convicted him, there is no basis whatsoever for removing him from office.

Were it otherwise, a corrupt Federal Executive could remove state officials willy-nilly simply by framing them.
12.14.2008 12:00am
I love the way she cites to 30-40 year old dictionaries in trying to define disability.
12.14.2008 2:19am
Impeach Lisa Madigan (mail):
The Attorney General is violating the Illinois Constitution by grabbing for supreme executive power that is vested in the Governor by section 8 of the Illinois Constitution. In Illinois state government, there are elected Executive branch officials, including the Attorney General and the Governor, who serve for their elected term, and appointed Executive branch officials that the Governor has the constitutional power to remove. If the Attorney General is correct that in the absence of a law passed by the General Assembly defining the circumstances of "other disability" and in the absence of a determination by the Governor himself that he is disabled, the Attorney General may petition the Supreme Court of Illinois to remove the Governor, then every elected branch official may be targeted for removal by the Attorney General. The Attorney General has no such removal power to eliminate her political rivals while keeping herself immune from similar attack. Only the Governor has removal power to eliminate appointed executive officials. Elected executive officials are removed by impeachment, and the Attorney General should be impeached.
12.14.2008 6:43am

Elected executive officials are removed by impeachment, and the Attorney General should be impeached.

I think the Attorney General is wrong, but being wrong is not a crime. Restraining the concept of "crime" from expanding to fit any situation one wishes to apply it to is just as important to preventing abuses of power as restraining the concept of "disability" Some disputes simply have to be allowed to blow over without courts becoming involved.
12.14.2008 9:57pm
Impeach Lisa Madigan (mail):

Restraining the concept of "crime" from expanding to fit any situation one wishes to apply it to is just as important

Neglect of duty
Violating the law

All reasons to impeach.

Section 8 of the Illinois Constitution vests the supreme executive power in the Governor, not the Attorney General. Usurping that power in an incompetent way that is neglectful of one's duty is malfeasance that violates the law. It need not be criminally punished activity.
12.15.2008 2:49am
That is an absurd argument, Impeach.

The constitution itself provides for this method of removal and the legislature has left it up to the courts to define disability. The constitution gives the courts, not Madigan, the power to remove. She won't be removing anyone. This has nothig to do with guilt or innocence, only whether he is disabled, under these particular facts.

(User - the use of 40 year old dictionays is because the constution was written around 1970)
12.15.2008 4:59pm

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