Monday, December 29, 2008

The catch-22 in Illinois

OK, so most everyone agrees that Blago needs to go.

He won't resign. In fact, he's hired a movie star lawyer to fight it.

He can't be removed on the grounds of insanity. The state supreme court says it is out of the question.

So the state reps are now busy with impeachment. This could take months in the best of circumstances, but there is a serious wrinkle here.

The feds arrested him because he was about to name a new senator for Illinois, shake down a children's hospital, and fire a newspaper editor. They couldn't wait.

But they also need to complete the investigation and take it to trial. Therein lies the problem.

The same people who are federal witnesses (and suspects) are the very people the legislature wants to call as witnesses in the impeachment. And rightly so the feds are telling the state reps they can't have access to these people.

So the state house needs to impeach him without much new information. Then the state senate has to try him under the same restrictions.

My guess is that they are angry enough to get the job done anyway. Pat Quinn predicts the deed will be done by Lincoln's birthday (the big 200).

But a sloppy case could lead to an appeal. (I have no idea who the court of last resort is but appeals are always risky.)

I suppose that even if they can't impeach him Blago is a lame duck. But even lame ducks get in the way and this one has nothing to lose by flexing his muscles.

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