Friday, January 09, 2009

Blagojevich Impeached

So, the hot news today is that the Illinois House of Representatives voted 114 to 1 to impeach sitting governor Rod Blagojevich.  This raises some interesting issues.

The 95th General Assembly of the State of Illinois turns into a pumpkin at either midnight or noon (not clear on which), Wednesday, January 12th.  If the Senate doesn't complete the trial prior to then, the bill of impeachment passed up by the House dies on the table when the 95th assembly is forcibly adjourned sine die at that time.  While the 96th Assembly could certainly take up the question anew, it would require the newly assembled House to reimpeach Blagojevich.

In addition, it takes the Governor to convene a newly-assembled Senate; it's unclear to me what happens if the Governor fails to appear in Springfield to convene the Senate on Wednesday as required by law.  Not to mention that last I heard the Governor had a court date in Federal court in Chicago Wednesday afternoon, which puts him in the unenviable position of having to be in two places at the same time.  (It's possible that that court date has been rescheduled or postponed; I haven't heard.)  If Blagojevich refuses to convene the 96th Senate, it's unclear to me what would be required to initiate the 96th session of the Illinois State Senate.

A comment I've seen a lot from people regarding the Burris appointment is that the Assembly should have mandated a special election when it had a chance.  What this disregards is even if the Assembly had passed a bill altering the method of appointing replacement Senators, Blagojevich could easily have refused to sign the bill, delaying its adoption for up to 60 days, during which time he could easily have appointed anyone he wanted.  Also, adopting the bill would have required a three-fifths majority in both houses, because to be effective the bill would have had to specify an effective date other than the constitutional default of June 1, 2009.

I half expect Blago to refuse to appear before the Senate for the impeachment trial.  It also wouldn't surprise me if the Illinois State Police end up having to haul him out of his Chicago office by main force after he is convicted.  It's increasingly obvious that Blago is loose in the noggin.  The odds of him pulling a King Charles the First here seem pretty strong.  He might even sue the Legislature.  It's bound to be fun.