U Wis-Madison law prof Ann Althouse takes Illinois Atty. Genl Lisa’s argument to remove Blagojevich from office apart piece by piece, in the process dismantling Madigan as someone to be taken seriously in this latest Illinois tragi-comedy of errors.
Madigan is relying on Article V, Section 6 of the Illinois 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.” So she needs to argue that Blagojevich is disabled within the meaning of that text.
Asked by an Illinois Supreme Court justice if this article “was meant for a political or legal crisis like this or simply for some kind of, you know, medical or emotional issue,” she says “we,” she and her office, presumably,
would look to the fact that the term disability legally is very broad, that it is not simply isolated to a physical or mental disability. And you can read all about that in our pleadings.
“Yes,” said the questioner, letting it go at that.
Would removing the governor for this reason “set a dangerous precedent,” she was asked, but did not understand the question.
Q. Are there enough protections in place to stop someone from doing what you’re doing in the future?
Q For political ends.
Q From abusing the —
. . . Q (Off mike) — abusing the AG authority.
“One of the protections,” she answered, finally getting it, is that the state supreme court “has total discretion” in the matter and “serves as a check on the executive branch in the circumstance.”
To which Althouse:
So the safeguard against the AG’s abuse of power is that the court will have the role of deciding? How can it be the court‘s role to make the final call about things that belong in the realm of impeachment? Why do constitutions put impeachment trials in legislatures? Because courts are ill-suited to such decision-making.
Althouse was just getting warmed up. The rest is here. Vanderbilt U. law prof Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) calls it “embarrassing,” says, “Illinois state government is looking like one big clown show.”
And Ms. Madigan is looking like a hack She’s been the strong, silent type in Chi newspapers, etc., with nothing to say, apparently.
The court is on to her, to judge from this exchange:
At the end of the oral argument, the court flat-out confronts Madigan about her own political ambitions and conflict of interest:
Q I know you say that you haven’t been thinking about politics at all, but there have obviously been a lot of questions about politics, and there wouldn’t be questions about politics unless your political future was considered very bright and in play here. Given the fact of your possible interest in being governor, given the fact that you’ve been mentioned as a possible Senate replacement for Barack Obama, was any consideration given to your removing yourself from this issue because of a possible perception, if not reality, of conflict of interest?
MS. MADIGAN: No. And let me make two further statements. One is I never expressed any interest in even being considered for the U.S. Senate vacancy. I never contacted or talked to any — the governor or anybody in the governor’s office about that.
In addition, I am supporting putting the lieutenant governor in to serve as at governor of the state of Illinois. I think that is in the best interests of the people of this state. And I am happy to serve as the attorney general of this state. And I will continue in that role to do what is best for the people of this state.
Well, the answer is meaningless. The question says it all [comments Althouse].
I’d say so.