Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Speaker blasts Blagojevich's lawsuit

From Crain's today about the lawsuit as a result of the downstate political personality clash...
State Capitol feuding has escalated with House Speaker Michael Madigan blasting the governor's lawsuit over special sessions as an assault on the Constitution's declaration of equal branches of government.

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

Blagojevich also that argued his constitutional authority to call special sessions was being eviscerated because Madigan told lawmakers to skip special sessions after a state budget was passed.

But Madigan said in his response that Blagojevich, in an "unprecedented misuse of executive authority," called 16 special sessions at inconvenient times and with little notice to apparently punish lawmakers for refusing to pass legislation he wanted.

"He wants to force lawmakers to remain in Springfield indefinitely, with the hope that this effective imprisonment will force members to the point of exhaustion and capitulation to his will," Madigan wrote in a letter sent to lawmakers Monday explaining his position.
I want to point you to Rich Miller's Daily Southtown column. In this column it was mentioned that the Governor had a lawsuit against the Clerk of the Illinois House of Representatives. That lawsuit was dismissed...
The governor maintained that the clerk violated the state Constitution on Sept. 4, when the House met for a regular session, and his $500 million vetoes from the state budget weren't entered into the House Journal. The Constitution specifically requires that veto messages be entered "immediately" and then gives the originating chamber (the House, in this case) 15 days to take action.

The governor's lawyers were demanding that Kelley force the House to retroactively enter the message into the journal, which would have meant that by last Thursday's court date, the Sept. 19 deadline would already have passed for any action on the overrides.

Judge Kelley said in open court when announcing the case's dismissal that complying with the governor's wishes by requiring the House forfeit its right to act on the vetoes "would be a grave injustice not only to members of the House, but also the people of Illinois who have the right to see the legislative process run its course."

But there's more to this than first meets the eye. Attorneys for House Speaker Michael Madigan and the governor had been meeting with Kelley behind closed doors to discuss the case. Kelley obviously wanted to see a settlement rather than get the courts involved in a Constitutional battle between two feuding branches of government, sources from both sides said. Since the House already had scheduled an early veto session for Oct. 2, Kelley suggested that the chamber "enroll" the veto message on Sept. 17, which would allow for an up or down vote on the first day of the veto session. The House earlier had offered to enroll the message on Sept. 19 but decided to comply with the judge's wishes to avoid open litigation and a possible loss.

That wasn't good enough for the governor's office, however, which can't seem to come to an agreement with Madigan on anything this year. The governor demanded a full hearing on Thursday, and lawyers from both sides filed their briefs. The governor's attorneys demanded that Kelley order the House to backdate the journal entry to Sept. 4, flatly denied that the case was "mooted" by the Sept. 17 action and generally stuck to its guns.

To the reporters present at the hearing, it appeared that Kelley stuck it to the governor. Not only did he have harsh words for the governor's case, he also slammed the "Hatfields and McCoys" atmosphere of the never-ending legislative session that has pitted Madigan and Blagojevich against each other all year.
One more item. A press release from Michael Madigan the Speaker of the Illinois House or Representatvies. It was regarding another lawsuit that the governor filed to dispute who had the authority to determine the meeting time of a legislative special session the presiding officers of the General Assembly (being the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate) or the Governor...
In essence, the governor has sued because the House started two of the special sessions a few hours earlier than the governor would have preferred – in other words, because the House acted on his supposedly urgent business too urgently.

I believe that the House made every reasonable attempt to comply with the governor’s 16 special session proclamations, even though: none of them could have resulted in the passage of a comprehensive budget bill because they were written to only allow the General Assembly to consider a portion of the state budget; many of them were duplicative; many were received with only a few hours’ notice (in two instances less than an hour); and for none of them did the governor furnish any legislation for the body to consider, permit any witnesses from his administration to testify or himself appear in support of a bill.

It bears noting 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. He has called 33 special sessions during his five years in office. In contrast, the 39 governors who preceded Blagojevich called a combined 89 special sessions since 1818. The power to call a special session is an extraordinary one; the framers of our 1970 Constitution intended that it be used sparingly and to deal with unusual or emergency circumstances. Though aware that it would be possible to use it for malign purposes, they thought it highly improbable any governor would do so. It only took 37 years for them to be proven wrong.

Having failed to achieve many of his objectives through the normal legislative process, in no small part due to his absence from the Capitol for much of the regular spring session, the governor has elected to appeal to the courts to try and gain the upper hand. However, as the motion to dismiss makes clear, the governor’s motivation for his lawsuit is not a noble defense of sacred constitutional principles. Rather, 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 this effective imprisonment will force members to the point of exhaustion and capitulation to his will.
OK so it boils down to how the Governor and the Speaker of the House can't seem to get along. We hear about how the Governor came in with this idea of triangulation except that in his tenure as governor he never had to face a Republican majority in either house of the General Assembly. So he homes in on the who provides the most difficulty, the Speaker of the House.

Now I don't know how far back this bad blood goes. I believe Madigan has a prominent role in Blagojevich's re-elections and I'm willing to bet that he wish he hadn't been. Either way it seems we see who's being a cry-baby and who's being more of an adult. Of course I can also say that Madigan is proving who has more pull and he's using it in his "personality clash" with the Governor.

I still wonder if it had to be that way. And I understand that is a rather naive thing to ask.

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