[JURIST] The Illinois Supreme Court [official website] Wednesday rejected a bid by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [official profile] to have Governor Rod Blagojevich [official website] temporarily removed from office [JURIST report] in the wake of corruption charges [complaint, PDF] laid against him last week in connection with his naming of a replacement to fill President-elect Barack Obama's now-vacant Senate seat. The order rejecting Madigan's motion to file a complaint [text, PDF] with the court was made without comment. In a statement [text] afterwards, Madigan said:
Because of Governor Blagojevichs refusal to resign, the State of Illinois is in an unsustainable situation. The serious criminal charges against Governor Blagojevich strike directly at the heart of his decision-making process and seriously impede his ability to legitimately exercise the powers of his office. Thus, while the U.S. Attorneys Office and the impeachment process move forward, the State is left with a Governor who cannot make effective decisions on critical and time-sensitive issues.A committee of the Illinois House of Representatives began its impeachment investigation [JURIST report] of Blagojevich Tuesday, gathering evidence and testimony related to the charges. Hearings are expected to continue for several weeks. On Wednesday, lawyers for Blagojevich urged that Madigan be removed [letter, PDF] from her role as Blagojevich's official counsel in the committee proceeding given her high court filing to have him ousted from office [Chicago Tribune report]. If the committee recommends that Blagojevich be impeached, the recommendation will go to a vote before the entire House. If the House votes to impeach, the proceedings will go before the Senate, which will act as a jury with the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court presiding. This is Illinois's first impeachment inquiry involving a governor.
The Illinois Constitution expressly gives the Supreme Court the authority to determine whether the Governor has the ability to serve. Given this constitutional provision, on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois, I sought relief in the Illinois Supreme Court to temporarily remove Governor Blagojevich so that the State could continue to function while the U.S. Attorney and the General Assembly proceed. The Constitution does not require the Illinois Supreme Court to act.
I am hopeful that the General Assembly will act with deliberate speed. It is imperative that we begin to restore the Peoples confidence in their government.