Impeachment Made Easy: The Illinois Model

How quickly can a motivated legislative chamber impeach a scoundrel?

Very quickly, indeed.

The Illinois House of Representatives, acting just hours after the
chamber's investigative committee recommended action against
scandal-plagued Governor Rod Blagojevich, voted 114-1 Friday morning in
favor of impeachment of the man who allegedly hung a "for sale" sign on
the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama.

The Illinois House action sets up a state Senate trial that could
lead to the removal of Blagojevich for abusing his office -- and for
getting himself in such a mess that he can no longer effectively

The Senate convenes for a trial on the impeachment charge next week,
with each of the 59 senators acting as a juror. If 40 vote to convict
the governor, he's out.

And if sentiments expressed in the state House are any indication --
where support for impeachment crossed lines of party, ideology and
region -- it seems likely that the governor's days in office are

"Due to his conduct, the governor has failed to uphold the oath of
office," explained state Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, who
chaired of the House panel that held impeachment hearings while
everyone in Washington was watching the circus surrounding
Blagojevich's nomination of Roland Burris to fill the Obama seat.

On Thursday, the committee unanimously recommended that the House move against the governor.

On Friday, it did, with Currie saying of the governor: "He is no
longer capable of defending our liberties. He should be impeached."

State Representative Jack Frank, a Chicago Democrat, was blunter: "It's
our duty to clean up the mess and stop the freak show that's become
Illinois government."

Representative Frank and his colleagues will get no argument from this quarter.

However, it is intriguing to some of us who have advocated for
another impeachment (or so), that things are now moving so quickly in
Illinois that Blagojevich forced from office before George Bush and
Dick Cheney leave voluntarily.

What the Illinois circumstance tells us it that, for all the whining
and bemoaning by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her cautious
colleagues, impeachment need not be the cumbersome or dysfunctional
process that members of Congress imagine -- and fear.

While Blagojevich certainly seems deserving of early retirement, it
is difficult to imagine how the Illinoisan's offenses can even be
compared with those of Cheney -- who recently acknowledged violating
his oath of office and affronting the Constitution by actively
promoting cruel and unusual punishment of those detained by the U.S.

Say what you will about the mess in Illinois.

But at least the Land of Lincoln has a legislature that recognizes its constitutional duty and acts upon it.

Washington could take a lesson from Springfield.

After all, there's still more than enough time to impeach and try a
vice president who has admitted to far higher crimes and misdemeanors
than those alleged against Governor Blagojevich.

There is no Constitutional impediment -- only the false construct
put in place by Pelosi when she declared, for reasons of politics as
opposed to principle, that impeachment was off the table.

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