The Illinois Supreme Court made the right decision not to oust Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office, said a constitutional law expert.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's lawsuit to transfer the governor's powers to Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn. Madigan filed the suit after Blagojevich was arrested on charges of attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
"While I am no fan of Governor Blagojevich, to this point it appears that all parties pointing fingers at him have completely forgotten about our United States Constitution, our Illinois Constitution and the rule of law," said attorney Tad Armstrong of Edwardsville.
Armstrong also is founder of a Constitution study group known as "ELL," Earn It, Learn It or Lose It, that encourages greater understanding of the U.S. Constitution. The club meets regularly in several towns throughout Madison County.
In her plea to the justices, Madigan had argued that "the pervasive nature and severity" of the case against Blagojevich had rendered him "incapable of legitimately exercising his ability as governor."
Armstrong said removing the governor based on his so-called "unfitness" would be "more frightening than a coup by force because the government would be effectively dismissing the idea of a democracy."
"It seems that everyone has conveniently forgotten about the 5th Amendment right to due process, the 6th Amendment rights to an impartial jury and to confront witnesses," Armstrong said.
He also said he was "disappointed" in Madigan for assuming so much power in her attempt to have Blagojevich removed.
While unprecedented, the state attorney general can petition the state supreme court to declare the governor unfit to serve.
"The 'unfitness' provision was never intended to include being under the pressure of mere allegations and/or being arrogant or brash or unreasonable," he said.
Armstrong said his greatest concern "is our penchant for convicting anyone in the media based upon inadmissible and unconfronted hearsay evidence."
"For heaven's sake, we ask a jury to base their judgment only upon evidence they hear in a court of law, yet our elected officials convict based upon no admissible evidence whatsoever," he said.
"I respect the Constitutions of our nation and our state far more than the Governor's accusers or the accused. Let the system work.
"That Constitutional framework has been paid for by the blood of countless American soldiers."