Is it troubling that Blagojevich was permanently banned from political office?

I wonder if it would withstand a (US) constitutional challenge:

Neither the federal nor state constitutions make any provision for reinstatement, so I would have to say the ban is permanent.

Since the state provision is modeled after a nearly identical provision in the federal constitution (Article I Section 3: "Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States . . .), it seems unlikely to be a violation of the latter.

The words “shall not extend further than”, by the way, draw a distinction from British practice, under which the House of Lords could impose any penalty up to and including death. :eek:

I believe it would withstand Federal Constitutional scrutiny for two reasons.

First, he had a trial. He was tried by the state senate, with the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court presiding. By definition, it’s not a Bill of Attainder if the punishment was rendered by a body with a judicial officer presiding. QED.

Second, and more controversially, you probably can’t call his impeachment trial a “legislative act,” since the state senators were not sitting as a legislature during the trial. Just because they are all ALSO senators (as well as Jurors for Impeachment), that does not make them a legislature.

Troubling? No, I’d say it’s quite pleasing. My observation is that politicians are usually happy to let their colleagues off the hook in hopes that they’d get the same treatment, if ever caught doing something wrong. That didn’t happen here. Blagojevich got the stiffest penalty Illinois could give him: he’s out on his ass and he’ll never hold office in Illinois again. He was probably washed up anyway, what with jail looming on the horizon, but I applaud the gesture.

When they mentioned the second vote, to disqualify him from holding office, I wondered about it. I did have doubts about it, since it seemed like overkill (not that I want him back in office anywhere, even as dogcatcher). But as I read this thread I realize I was thinking about elected offices. I hadn’t given any thought to appointed ones. With the kind of slimy dealings this guy has tried, and the kind of stuff he might well have tucked away somewhere, I don’t want him to be able to put pressure on some mayor or governor or legislature to appoint him to any office. I think I’m glad we’re protected from that.

That second step is optional. The US Senate, for instance, declined to impose it on federal judge Alcee Hastings in recognition of the inconvenient fact that he had actually been formally acquitted at his criminal trial, after they removed him in recognition of the fact that he did take the money.

Which is why he’s now Rep. Hastings (D-FL). That, and his playing the race card about his prosecution and impeachment, but that’s another story.

I’m going to need somebody who believes in God, any god, to pray for this for me. Any theists open to a bribe?

Michael Lowry is a politician in Ireland who had to resign from cabinet when it was revealed that a Businessman (who made alot of money from the decisions of Lowry) had paid for a £395,000+ renovation of his house.

A tribunal decided that he had avoided tax.

His own party refused to give him the nomination.
This was in 1996.

Since then we have had three elections (1997, 2002, 2007), and he has topped the poll each time.

The will of the people is a crazy thing at times, but I think that the final decision should be up to the people, as to whether or not a candidate is suitable for them.

This thread has raised an interesting issue. After thinking about it, I do believe that the Illinois Senate probably stepped on the authority of the people of Illinois to choose for themselves. But I also believe that the ability to permanently ban Blago from office is probably more geared towards making sure he never is able to be appointed to an office either. Lots of public service offices are by appointment. Perhaps the goal was to prevent him from being in that position too

As noted above, there’s still the question of whether this comports with the U.S. Constitution. I agree it probably isn’t a Bill of Attainder (although I’m not 100% on that), but it seems like it could violate due process. It’s no safe harbor for state legal proecedures to say that they’re exactly like federal procedures – that can still violate due process. For instance, the U.S. Senate has the same number of members from Wyoming and California, but states can’t divide their legislators in similar ways. All state legislative districts have to be roughly equal in population.


Cliffy, wouldn’t questions of due process be adequately dealt with by the fact that the U.S. Senate and the Illinois State Senate are empowered to sit as Courts for the Trial of Impeachments. following the example of the British House of Lords, all three bodies normally sitting as trhe upper houses of bicameral legislatures but each having the rarely-used but important secondary role of high court for specific rare purposes – in Americn usage. solely for impeachments?

It seems to be *copied from *the US Constitution.

Impeachment is not a legal procedure.

Yes. And as I said in my original post, that isn’t a guarantee that it’s constitutional. The federal government can do things that state governments can’t.


I’ve learned a lot from these responses. The historical perspective in particular is quite interesting. Thanks guys!

I don’t know. First, courts are as bound by the Constitution as anyone else, so the mere fact that Illinois law says this particular court can bar subsequent office doesn’t itself make that constitutional. Second, to me, calling a legislature a court doesn’t actually make it one. Plainly, impeachment and actual courtroom trials aren’t at all the same thing. Legislatures are inherently political, and therefore impeachment is inherently political; trials require juries, impeachment’s jury isn’t really a jury, it’s a state legislative chamber; etc. And of course this also effects the rights of Illinois citizens to elect who they want – even future Illinois citizens.

I’m not convinced that this is an inappropriate action; I just think “the Ill. Const. says this is OK” isn’t the end of the inquiry.