Blagojevich: A Governor Who Wasn't Fit to Serve
Commenter Bob Stovall offers another thoughtful take on impeachment: This is an interesting debate about impeachment, and I think that most of the original piece and comments are valid.
The 6th Amendment is not and should not be applicable. That amendment
very specifically applies to criminal trials in which the accused can
be found guilty of a criminal act and punished in many ways including
jail or even death.
All other legal actions are civil in nature, a significant difference
being that they do not have the potential of incarcerating an
individual, which is the ultimate denial of freedom. Sure an individual
can lose money, prestige or political office through a civil process,
but ultimately they will be free to move about the country.
The purpose of criminal proceedings is to punish. The purpose of civil
proceedings is to hold a person to a standard of behavior and
compensate those who are injured by that person's failure to adhere to
that standard. Impeachment by its very nature has perhaps the least
well-defined processes and "standards" because it is very rare and it
is implicated in the most unique circumstance - the determination of
the fitness of a public official to hold office.
The chief executive officer of a political entity such as a state or
the nation should be held to a very high standard of moral, ethical and
legal behavior. (Note I do not say political.) Actions that constitute
a breach of that standard of behavior may not be acts that are proven
to be criminal. But failure to hear to those standards may be an
offense against the people and the office. In this instance, the
citizens of Illinois are entitled to have a chief executive whose
behavior does not compromise his ability to lead the state.
Mr. Blagojevich may or may not have committed a crime. The fact that he
was indicted, particularly for the offense of using his office for
personal gain, may in and of itself be sufficient grounds for removing
him from office. His behavior both before and after his indictment
exacerbated the adverse impacts on his ability to govern.
Perhaps if he had treated the legislature and the citizens of Illinois
with more respect and less disdainful arrogance, he might have not have
denied himself the opportunity for a "fair" (I hate that word because
fair is always in the eye of the beholder.) process. Instead he chose
to abuse and condemn the process.
The fact that he is the first chief executive to be removed from office
in more than two decades tells me that the legislatures of the many
states and of the nation understand the seriousness of the
responsibility they have in this decision. The fact that he was removed
by a unanimous vote tells me that the Illinois Senate considered the
breaches he committed against the standards of honesty were
intolerable. The offenses he committed against the people of Illinois
(and even the nation) were so serious that that each and every Senator
felt Blagojevich was no longer fit to be the highest elected official
in the State.