The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday denied an effort to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich, rejecting what could have been the quickest way to force the disgraced Democrat from office.
The state Supreme Court rejected without comment a challenge filed by state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, herself a top candidate for governor in 2010. It was unclear whether the court turned down the case on its merits or on procedural grounds.
The attorney general had asked the court to remove Blagojevich, arguing that his legal and political troubles prevented him from performing his duties. Madigan said the governor's problems amount to a disability, so Blagojevich should have been stripped of his authority temporarily just as if he were physically incapacitated.
Madigan issued a statement saying she is disappointed by the court's decision:
"Because of Governor Blagojevich’s refusal to resign, the State of Illinois is in an unsustainable situation. The serious criminal charges against Governor Blagojevich strike directly at the heart of his decision-making process and seriously impede his ability to legitimately exercise the powers of his office. Thus, while the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the impeachment process move forward, the State is left with a Governor who cannot make effective decisions on critical and time-sensitive issues."
The court's decision renewed calls from Republicans for a special election to choose Obama's successor in the Senate.