The state of Illinois has been plunged into a constitutional crisis this week with the stinging indictment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Today, State Attorney General Lisa Madigan took it all up a notch:
Attorney General Lisa Madigan today opened an unprecedented legal attack against a sitting Illinois governor, taking the formal steps to ask the Illinois Supreme Court to declare Gov. Blagojevich unfit to hold office.
Madigan filed paperwork with the state high court this morning, invoking what is known as Rule 382 that would ask justices to rule on “the ability of the governor to serve.”
Madigan is seeking a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, urging the state high court to oust Gov. Blagojevich “due to disability.”
The Sun-Times calls this an “untested legal front.” You better believe it. This move is without precedent in the state of Illinois. If Blagojevich continues to insist on his innocence and remains in office, we are left with government essentially at a standstill.
Again from the Sun-Times:
Only 15 states, including Illinois, grant their state’s highest courts authority to remove a governor from office. The last time one of those states invoked that special power was in Indiana in 2003, when former Gov. Frank O’Bannon was removed from office after having suffered a stroke.
This will be much more difficult. The man is innocent until proven guilty. Madigan made a point of saying in her press conference on this matter that she was in no way making a statement about the guilt or innocence of the governor in these alleged crimes. Her concern is that state government can no longer function.
Twice in one week, I’m completely blown away.