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Governor Arrested – What's Next?

The article below came from the Business Empowered PAC a subsidiary of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. Given the interest in what the future holds for the governor, I thought you might like to read it.

If you are interested in the political process and how it impacts the business climate, you may want to consider membership in the PAC. Contact the Chamber for details.

Governor Arrested – What's Next?

With the arrest of and criminal complaint filed against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, many Illinois residents and lawmakers are calling for the immediate removal of the governor. The governor could simply resign his position, which would elevate Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn to the office of governor. However, Blagojevich has already stated that he refuses to resign. Other than a resignation, there are two options to remove the governor from office, impeachment and Supreme Court Rule 382.

Article IV Section 14 in the Illinois Constitution states that the impeachment process starts in the House of Representatives. This is where an investigation begins, and a majority vote is needed to approve bringing formal charges of wrong doing against an elected official. If the charges are approved by the House of Representatives, the official in question is considered impeached. It is important to note that the constitution does not require any specific reasons to justify the impeachment of an official.

The process then moves to the Senate where deliberation of the impeachment charges begins. The Senate convenes a process similar to a courtroom trial where witnesses are brought in to testify on the merits of the charges. The Senate President acts as the presiding officer of the proceedings for impeachments of most elected officials, but in the case of the impeachment of a governor, as would be the case with Gov. Blagojevich, the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court is the presiding officer.

A two-thirds majority in the Senate is needed to convict the official of the charges. According to the Illinois Constitution, the only sentence the impeached official can receive from the Senate is the removal from office and disqualification to hold future public office in Illinois. Any additional criminal charges would have to be filed by a law enforcement agency, such as the FBI.

Supreme Court Rule 382
Supreme Court Rule 382 has been brought to light by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan as another option to remove Gov. Blagojevich from office. The somewhat obscure rule allows an individual to file a request to the Supreme Court for the court to conduct a hearing to determine if the governor has the ability to serve or resume office.