It is official – by unanimous vote, Rod Blagojevich is no longer the Governor of Illinois. In fact he has been barred from seeking public office in the State of Illinois forever.
The Chicago Tribune has a fantastic live-blog of the day’s impeachment proceedings that provide a wonderful example of government in action. I think one state Senator put it best:
Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) said she went through
today’s proceedings with a heavy heart. But not all the legislators
felt sad about the experience.
“I’m happy to have participated
in this process,” said Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago). “Yeah, it’s
unprecedented, but future generations will know that we have this thing
called impeachment, and whenever any of our leaders, who are human
beings like us, overstep the boundaries, the process is in place,”
Meeks said. “We have this thing called impeachment and it’s bleeping
golden and we’ve used it the right way.”
Brilliant. It stands to reason that a politician may be corrupt; but the impeachment shows that the system is not.
I will be driving home to Chicago this weekend; I plan to see whether Blago’s name is still on all the open-road toll plazas.
UPDATE: Svend asks whether the impeachment trial gave Blago his due process. It’s important to note that the impeachment is a political trial, not a criminal one – Blago does face criminal charges from federal prosecutors, and in that trial he will assuredly get his witnesses and whatnot. But also keep in mind that Blago missed the deadlines to file for subpoenas and then complained of due process after the fact. The prosecutor for the House was working under the same rules as Blago’s defense and did not miss those deadlines. The simple truth is that Illinois has a solid constitutional basis for impeachment and the power to impeach is not an arbitrary one that can be wielded as a political cudgel; Blago’s case really did meet the (quite high) standard. For more on the issue of due process, see this post by Cornell law professor Michael Dorf. I also want to note that Blago’s trial got international attention – including Al Jazeera – so it again showed the world how in America, rule of law is paramount. The value of impeaching Blago thus has national benefit as well as for the state of Illinois.