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What’s next?

Wednesday, Sep 26, 2007

* As Paul told you yesterday, Speaker Madigan has filed a response to the governor’s lawsuit against him for not convening special sessions at the exact times the governor decreed…

House Speaker Michael Madigan has accused Gov. Rod Blagojevich of acting like a tyrant and asked a circuit judge to throw out the governor’s lawsuit claiming the speaker ignored calls for special legislative sessions, the latest chapter in an increasingly bitter battle between two of the state’s top Democrats.

Blagojevich and Madigan have framed their legal arguments as a question of constitutional authority and abuse of power, centered on the governor’s frequent demands that lawmakers meet to consider topics of his choosing during the record overtime session now in its fourth month.

The governor’s lawsuit accused the speaker of trying to erode Blagojevich’s “constitutional and statutory powers” by not ensuring House members showed up at the times the governor requested. Madigan fired back in an open letter to lawmakers Monday that accompanied his legal response, arguing Blagojevich used the special sessions to punish lawmakers who don’t agree with him.

* More

‘’The governor’s actions are far beyond the bounds of political gamesmanship,'’ Madigan wrote in a 58-page response to the lawsuit, which Gov. Blagojevich slapped on him a month ago for refusing to call special sessions at the specific times Blagojevich wanted during the Legislature’s record-breaking budget stalemate.

‘’Though his means may be the legal mechanism of a lawsuit, his ends traverse into a dark realm that ultimately seeks to replace the rule of law with rule by a single man,'’ said the response filed Monday in Sangamon County Circuit Court.

* More

“He seeks to control the start of the special sessions because he wants to force lawmakers to remain in Springfield indefinitely, with the hope that his effective imprisonment will force members to the point of exhaustion and capitulation to do his will.”

Madigan said the Illinois Constitution does not allow the governor to tell the House when to meet. The suit also should be thrown out of court, he argued, because the governor failed to include the Senate in the lawsuit, because the speaker cannot be sued for his actions in the House and because the dispute is a political one outside of the purview of the courts.

* And more

He goes on to say that “besides his evident contempt for fundamental constitutional principles, Governor Blagojevich has also done the legislative process harm through his gross abuse of the power to call special sessions.”

Madigan says Blagojevich has called 33 special sessions in five years. In contrast, he writes, the 39 governors who preceeded him called a combined 89 special sessions since 1818.

* The governor’s response

Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said the administration is standing up for the governor’s constitutional authority and would welcome a resolution out of court if Madigan would comply.

“We don’t care where the question is resolved — whether it’s in a courtroom, or out of a courtroom,” Rausch wrote in an e-mailed statement. “We just care about making sure the Constitution is upheld.”

This particular lawsuit is in front of the same judge court as the governor’s other suit, which attempted to force Madigan’s clerk to enroll the veto messages in a timely manner. Judge Kelley wanted a settlement, but Blagojevich rejected that idea and demanded a hearing. The judge tossed the case and the governor’s office claimed victory. This time around, the governor’s office is being a bit more humble, but not a lot.


…Adding… as OneMan points out, Fergus v. Marks is a major part of the Speaker’s argument against the governor’s lawsuit…

Similarly, in Fergus v. Marks, 321 Ill. 510, 152 N.E. 557 (1923), the Illinois Supreme Court refused to compel the General Assembly to assemble for the purpose of passing a legislative redistricting law, despite the fact that twenty years had passed since the previous enactment and notwithstanding the clear violation of an explicit constitutional command that “[t]he General Assembly shall apportion the state every ten years.” Ill. Const. 1870, Art. IV, § 6. Based on the principle of separation of powers, the Court was unwilling to compel the General Assembly to act even when that legislative body had a clear constitutional obligation to do so, because the Constitution left that obligation solely to the General Assembly.

Similarly, here the Governor seeks to compel the House to assemble session in concert (or so he claims) with a constitutional provision. As in Fergus, this Court should decline to enter into the legislative procedural arena, regardless of whether a constitutional provision has been breached. (Footnote: While Fergus construed the 1870 Constitution, the Supreme Court has relied on that case in interpreting the 1970 Constitution, which incorporated these same separation-of-powers principles.)

Madigan’s entire brief can be downloaded here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 9:10 am:

    If in Fergus vs. Marks (1923) the courts couldn’t force the leg to meet to redistrict as required under the constitution I don’t see how they can force the leg to do jack.

    Glad we spent the money on this one also if I was Madigan I would let it go to court.

  2. - He makes Ryan Look like a Saint - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 9:11 am:

    Judge Kelley is going to Rip the Governor’s attorneys once again for waisting the courts time. I look for him to ask once again WHY the house was only named. Lecture them like a principle to a student and throw it out. The Gov will come out with a press announcement claiming he won again which will confuse everyone once again.

    He is making a joke of the governors office. BTW Welcome back Rich.

  3. - Lainer - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 9:33 am:

    I love that phrase “his ends traverse into a dark realm.” It makes Blago sound like some legendary evil ruler a la Sauron or Darth Vader or the White Queen of Narnia — she cursed Narnia with perpetual winter, while he cursed Springfield with perpetual summer (legislative session).

  4. - Leigh - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 9:34 am:

    I am not a democrat, but I think Madigan is one clever son of a gun. Blago looks more foolish (if that is even possible) every day and Madigan seems to be more than ready to assist Blago on his path of self destruction.

  5. - Doodles - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 9:34 am:

    Let’s make some calculations. This Governor has called 33 special sessions. All previous Governors have called a total of 89, or an average of 2.3 each. This Governor has called more than 14 times as many as that average. Has there been 14 times as many critical issues in this administration, compared to all previous administrations, what with little things like the Civil War, World Wars, the Depression, etc? The numbers just don’t add up.

  6. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 9:47 am:

    Mr. Blagojevich has made the same mistake twice. Instead of focusing on an issue and attacking it, he has focused on a person and attacked that person. He loses his own court case by doing so.

    As Governor, Mr. Blagojevich had an edge regarding issues facing the state. If Mr. Blagojevich wished to make his case regarding special sessions, he could have used his office and file suit in a manner to allow a courtroom to rationally discuss it.

    Instead Mr. Blagojevich used the Governor’s office to make a personal attack against Mr. Madigan, demeaning the governor’s office and demeaning his own argument. By focusing on a personal attack, his suit overlooks the same issue and conditions within the Senate, which weakens his case. His suit becomes an irrational personal attack instead of a reasoned argument to present to a court.

    As governor, Mr. Blagojevich had an enormous amount of political power within Illinois. Instead of mastering his Office and using it to further his agendas, he is mismanaging it by using it for political blood sport. As a governor, Mr. Blagojevich never needed to have reduced himself to this level. However even after five years, Mr. Blagojevich has yet to learn his job. He has allowed himself to be seen as slow witted and lazy. Consequentially he has lost nearly all credibility within the legislature by failing to be a governor. He continues to make this mistake today.

    Personally attacking Michael Madigan by abusing the court system with this lawsuit is an enormous mistake. When governor fail to govern or when they abuse their office for personal political gain, they need to be impeached. Mr. Blagojevich’s behavior ruins any agenda he wishes to promote during his second term. It is entirely Mr. Blagojevich’s fault and entirely avoidable. With his lawsuits, Illinois’ governor publically displays a contempt towards those he needs to work with. By suing Mr. Madigan, Mr. Blagojevich raises the Speaker’s political stature within Illinois and reduces the Governor’s stature.

    It is so very frustrating to watch this governor fiddle around and shun his job when this state needs a governor. It would be better right now to have the governor’s office empty, than to see it used as a chainsaw against personal political enemies.

    I thought Nixon was dead.

  7. - jwscott72 - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 10:12 am:

    I’m a Republican and boy do I wish that we had someone as smart and shrewd as the Speaker leading our party. Vanilla is right on target.

    Darth Hairbrush is in for a world of hurt and it’s all his doing.

  8. - Gus Frerotte's Clipboard - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 10:29 am:

    Finer legal points aside, the most interesting aspect of the Madigan brief is the heat in the rhetoric. Nobody would be surprised to see that from the Governor, but the Speaker isn’t known for publicly trying to ratchet things up this way. Especially in front of a judge who, while ruling for the Speaker in the previous lawsuit, still seemed to take a dim view of both sides in the feud. The actual legal point in this suit means very little (it seems like not much changes no matter who wins or loses), so it’s really just for show, and I’m almost a little surprised the Speaker has decided to play it so hot rather than playing it ice cold the way he often does.

  9. - one of the 35 - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 10:32 am:

    The Speaker has once again demonstrated that he is as articulate as he is shrewd.

  10. - In the Know - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 11:27 am:

    “Don’t mess with the bull or you’ll get the horns!”

  11. - Ellinoyed - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 11:55 am:

    Is this suit in front of the same judge? The brief says Judge Zappa, not Kelly.

  12. - North of I-80 - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 12:04 pm:

    As the Governor vs Speaker of House battle continues to heat up, I am more confidant that any stupid, improper or illegal activities performed by the Governor will be handled properly. Betting that MJM will not miss a step…

  13. - Siyotanka - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 12:52 pm:

    hum…a little over 300 suits filed against the Gov as a defendant…???

  14. - HoosierDaddy - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 12:57 pm:

    We lawyers are the only people in the world who can write a 58-page document and call it a “brief.”

    Madigan’s spot on. This is a gross violation of separation of powers. Of course, Milorad has not read the Constitution, so go figger.

  15. - Captain America - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 12:58 pm:

    Madigan continues to best the Governor rhetorically,tactically, and strategically. The Governor’s lawsuit appears to be frivolous and without merit given the Governor’s obvious misuse and abuse of his authority to call special sessions. Factually, the Governor’s case is undermined becaue he had very little of substance/or nothing at all to present to the legislators requiring legislative action at these special sessions. I think Madigan’s suggestion that the Governor has endeavored to bludgeon the legislature into submission by calling special sessions is accurate.

  16. - Lotta Liaison - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 1:24 pm:

    It looks like this case is in front of Zappa not Kelly.

  17. - HoosierDaddy - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 4:14 pm:

    Frank Zappa? I thought he died.

  18. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 4:18 pm:

    I think it’s Moon Unit.

  19. - Little Egypt - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 5:32 pm:

    Rich, perhaps you will tell me what I had in my post that was so offensive as to cause deletion? Perhaps I was a little over the top in thinking Madigan should be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his legal response to Blago’s lawsuit. Perhaps it was my comparison of Blago to the fight in the prison yard in Cool Hznd Luke. If so, you’re correct, that was a bad comparison and an insult to Cool Hand Luke. I still believe though that Madigan is going to teach Blago one tough lesson - how to lose his job as governor of Illinois.

  20. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 5:32 pm:

    It was the violent imagery.

  21. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 5:36 pm:

    I’ll bet a check that Blago never makes it past Page 10, then giving up to either go for a run or sit down to watch Hannah Montana with Amy.

  22. - Little Egypt - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 5:37 pm:

    Your blog, your rules. Thanks.

  23. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 6:03 pm:


  24. - Slight edit for clarity - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 9:40 pm:

    Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said the administration is standing up for the governor’s constitutional testicular authority and would welcome a resolution out of court if Madigan would complybow down before the dark one.

    “We don’t care where the question is resolved — whether it’s in a courtroom, or out of a courtroom out back with a lead pipe ,” Rausch wrote in an e-mailed statement. “We just care about making sure the Constitution is upheld governor can do whatever he feels like.”

    There, fixed that for you, Rebecca.

  25. - Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 9:45 pm:

    They sure had a nerve in Springfield today, standing in the center of the medical district that Blago zeroed-out of the budget as “pork”, holding a press conference to talk about how if only the House would support the Governor’s budget, it would improve health care as well as foster bold new initiatives in the medical community. Addition by subtraction, that’s the new math a la Blago. Judy Erwin should be ashamed.

  26. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Sep 26, 07 @ 10:32 pm:

    “We don’t care where the question is resolved..” If you don’t not care, then take the lawsuit back and move on.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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