A friend (who probably shouldn't be identified given the nature of her work) gave me a nifty, homemade "Impeach Blagojevich" button that I will display proudly at work, alongside my "McGovern-Shriver '72" bumper sticker. That reminds me that I should also add my old "Lillian Falconer for Sheriff" button, a vestige from the days when the Champaign County Democrats made it a point to run someone for every office, no matter how poor (take that anyway you want) the candidate.
This latest button got me wondering how easy it would be to impeach Blagojevich or anyone else. As far as I know, no one has been impeached under Illinois' 1970 Constitution, which reads:
SECTION 14. IMPEACHMENT
The House of Representatives has the sole power to conduct legislative investigations to determine the existence of cause for impeachment and, by the vote of a majority of the members elected, to impeach Executive and Judicial officers. Impeachments shall be tried by the Senate. When sitting for that purpose, Senators shall be upon oath, or affirmation, to do justice according to law. If the Governor is tried, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senators elected. Judgment shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold any public office of this State. An impeached officer, whether convicted or acquitted, shall be liable to prosecution, trial, judgment and punishment according to law.
I don't suppose our governor has done anything to merit impeachment. Being an Elvis fan or a governor who won't govern or a governor who takes care of his campaign donors probably isn't sufficient grounds for impeachment. Anyway, if George Ryan couldn't be impeached, then it isn't going to happen to Rod Blagojevich -- especially with a Democratic House and Senate.
In fact, I found a piece of writing by state Sen. Chris Lauzen, R-Aurora, where in the aftermath of the Ryan debacle, he suggested that Illinois' Constitution should have what essentially would be a recall provision, where the public could recall a sitting officeholder. Apparently nothing came of Lauzen's suggestion which follows:
"However, ultimately our only relief may be to begin the petition signature process to amend the Illinois State Constitution to effectively restore to the people their power to remove a governor or legislator from office before they do more irreparable harm. People who want to participate in an impeachment-recall petition drive to amend the Illinois Constitution should call my office at 630/264-2334.
George Ryan's disgraceful legacy to the people of Illinois is a pattern of personal, political, and now moral corruption that is simply staggering."
A Blagojevich impeachment would be a waste of time. The 21st century version of Dan Walker should be gone in 20 months anyway.