Saturday, January 10, 2009

Impeachment: what's next

Clout City:
The Illinois House made history today by impeaching the governor. Next week it's going to do it again.

This session of the state legislature, the 95th General Assembly, will end Tuesday, well before the Illinois Senate will be able to conduct an impeachment trial. HR1671, as the House impeachment resolution is formally known, will then be flushed along with other unfinished business when the 96th assembly is sworn in Wednesday.

The new House, which will include rookie rep Deb Mell, sister-in-law of Governor Blagojevich, will then have to hold another vote on another resolution that's identical to the one passed today, except that it'll have a different number attached to the "HR" in its formal name.

Steve Brown, spokesman for House speaker Michael Madigan, says the impeachment resolution will be presented for a vote almost immediately after members are sworn in Wednesday. "We’ll validate the work that’s been done and the resolution passed today," he said. "All of this was anticipated."

Today's vote wasn't simply put off until next week, legislators say, because they wanted to send a message as soon as possible that they were ready to oust the governor and start addressing other substantial problems. "Before the governor’s arrest, the number one call I got was from day care providers and health care providers talking about shutting down because they hadn’t been paid by the state," said state rep David Miller, who represents a south side and south suburban district. "In this economy, where people are trying to hold onto their jobs, we cannot afford to be losing day care providers.... Then the whole circus started—but those problems still exist. We had to at least make sure we could move forward."
I've been hearing a lot of things about the actual impeachment trial in the state Senate. Some could compare it to what happened with Bill Clinton when he was impeached with members of the House of Representatives coming into the Senate as managers. In this case of Blagojevich, we may see attorneys make the case for or against the Governor.

The basic analogy about the whole impeachment and removal process is that the House makes an "indictment" as a "grand jury". Then the state Senate acts as "jury" that effectively issues a "conviction". Of course while there aren't any solid rules for impeachment, there is one common thing with what might be found in the federal constitution, the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court is supposed to preside over the "trial". And remember this is more of a political matter than a legal one.

BTW, one issue of concern that has been said by many political followers is that the state Senate is suppose to be presided over and inaugurated by Rod Blagojevich. There might be some concern that the Governor won't show up to preside over the state Senate so that they can turn around and consider his impeachment. Some like Greg Hinz who I saw on Friday's edition Chicago Tonight wondered if the state Senate can inaugurate itself or perhaps the Lt. Governor could be allowed to inaugurate the Senate. Laura Washington said (also was a guest on Chicago Tonight with Hinz) that the state police could arrest the Governor again and force him to inaugurate the Senate. By Wednesday there will be an answer to that question and we can continue on this road.

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