City of Brass

City of Brass


Blago gone: impeachment is “bleeping golden”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

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.



  • svend

    I certainly have no sympathy for any politician who engages in what Blogojevich stands accused of, but does this hurried process–with an elected official getting sacked before he’s been found guilty of anything–threaten the integrity of the political process?
    Officials have a right to due process, too, and being a jerk and/or crude (which is the only thing the recordings I’ve heard prove on their face as far as I can tell) is not illegal.
    I think many of his criticisms of this crazy process are dead-on. Rule of Law should come before politics and PR (i.e., the understandable desire of Illinois politicans to get this behind them ASAP).
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/26/blagojevich-calls-illinois-state-senate-impeachment-trial-kangaroo-court/

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    One more thing, to make one thing explicit: I’d argue that the serious procedural concerns with this impeachment, to the contrary, undermine one’s faith in the process. It seems to me that what we’ve seen here is a state legislature demeaning itself and short-circuiting the legal process.
    If one listens to recordings of previous presidents that have entered the public domain in recent years, one discovers that Blago’s unsavory manner is hardly unique in the annals of American political history, so the argument that the impeachment can be justified purely by established norms of decorum strikes me as weak, as well. Venal, crude opportunists aren’t exactly unheard of in political life.
    Just my $0.02…

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Here’s a long overdue reply to Aziz’s thorough explanation.
    I can’t argue with most of what you’re saying, and upon further reflection I have to concede that the problem isn’t really legal in nature. It is a political and cultural one, but that doesn’t make it any less concerning given the stakes.
    As I wrote elsewhere (http://akramsrazor.typepad.com/islam_america/2009/01/a-contrarian-take-on-the-blagojevich-impeachment.html#comment-6a00d8341c30aa53ef0112793ea0ad28a4)
    “I see the point about this being inherently political. I also realize that an legitimate argument can be made that society’s collective interest in a political official being able to govern properly (i.e., free of a cloud of ill repute and scandal) comes before their personal legal rights.
    I guess what this really is about is how destabilizing media sensationalism can be to the political process. I am disturbed at how a handful of newscasters overnight ran an elected official out of town before the charges had been properly examined.”

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