ATTORNEY GENERAL Lisa Madigan’s attempt to have the Illinois Supreme Court temporarily remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office should be considered a stopgap measure while the General Assembly prepares to do its duty — impeach Blagojevich.

ATTORNEY GENERAL Lisa Madigan’s attempt to have the Illinois Supreme Court temporarily remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office should be considered a stopgap measure while the General Assembly prepares to do its duty — impeach Blagojevich.


 


At her news conference Friday, Madigan admitted that her move will not solve Illinois’ Blagojevich problem.


“My action will not eliminate the need for impeachment and trial,” Madigan told reporters in Chicago after filing her motion. “We still think it is imperative for the legislature to make a decision.”


MADIGAN'S MOVE is based on an obscure Supreme Court rule that allows the justices to remove a disabled governor.


Using an awfully broad definition of disability, Madigan says the severity of the criminal complaint filed against Blagojevich by the federal prosecutors prevents him from “making effective decisions on critical, time-sensitive issues.” She asked the justices to appoint Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn as acting governor.


Madigan noted that Supreme Court Rule 382 is “bare bones” and does not even outline a process for how the court is to proceed. The justices could deny her request; they could ask Madigan and the governor’s legal counsel to write briefs or come before them for oral arguments; or they could grant her request.


In other words, the court has to make it up as it goes along.


WE ARE SKEPTICAL that this is going to work. It’s hard to imagine that Illinois’ seven justices want to dip their toes into this cesspool and set such a precedent. The state constitution sets out a fairly straightforward way to get rid of a governor — impeachment by the House and trial and removal by the Senate.


But when it comes to impeachment, House Speaker Michael Madigan has not inspired confidence in his leadership over the last week because of the lukewarm comments from his spokesman, Steve Brown. In comments to the Chicago Sun-Times and The Capitol Fax Blog, Brown denied Speaker Madigan is dragging his feet but said that it could take over six weeks to remove the governor and expressed concern about the available evidence.


It’s hard to know whether the speaker is being sensibly cautious or politically calculating. It would help if Speaker Madigan actually spoke with Illinoisans about his views via a full-fledged news conference when he arrives in Springfield.


ULTIMATELY, we do not object to Lisa Madigan’s move because she has made it clear that impeachment or resignation — not the state Supreme Court — will provide the ultimate remedy.


If the attorney general’s petition works, it even may ease a new problem: The state faces an immediate cash-flow problem stemming directly from Blagojevich’s legal peril.


The state had planned to issue $1.4 billion in short-term bonds, but the governor’s budget office canceled the sale before the interest rate was set. Attorney General Madigan told reporters in Chicago Friday that she cannot sign the bond certificates because boilerplate language in them requires her to certify that there’s no pending legal action that threatens the governor’s ability to hold office.


Without that money, the state’s already-slow bill payment could be slower or grind to a halt.


All of this underscores the need for the General Assembly to begin the impeachment process when it convenes Monday.