Illinois Attorney General Asks Court to Remove Blagojevich From Office

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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the state Supreme Court to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office on Friday, arguing that he can no longer fulfill his duties and that the state government is "paralyzed" by his presence.

Madigan filed the motion as calls mounted from across the country for the governor to step down. Blagojevich was arrested by federal agents Tuesday on corruption charges, including allegations that he tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.

"I recognize that this is an extraordinary request, but these are extraordinary circumstances," Madigan said at a press conference. "Governor Blagojevich can no longer fulfill his official duties with any legitimacy."

She did not express any objections to having the state legislature remove Blagojevich from office, an impeachment process that has been discussed by lawmakers. But she said action needs to be taken immediately to oust the governor. Madigan wants Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn to be appointed as acting governor.

"The impeachment process will take time," Madigan said. "In the interim, state government is paralyzed by a governor who is incapable of governing."

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The governor's chief of staff, John Harris, submitted his resignation Friday, after he was named along with Blagojevich in the FBI complaint three days ago.

Madigan continued to call on Blagojevich to "resign immediately," as a way to avoid impeachment proceedings, as well as court action.

The attorney general asked the court for a temporary restraining order or an injunction that prevents Blagojevich from serving as governor. The filing says he is "unable to serve as governor due to disability and should not rightfully continue to hold that office."

"The pervasive nature and severity of these pending charges disable Mr. Blagojevich from making effective decisions on critical, time-sensitive issues," the filing said.

It marked the first time in Illinois history that such an action was taken. The attorney general is applying a rule that was intended to cover cases in which a governor is incapacitated for health reasons. Her motion indicates that his inability to serve because of the scandal is akin to a debilitating health issue.

The move came as the governor prayed with several ministers in his home before heading to his office, telling them he is innocent and will be vindicated "when you hear each chapter completely written," according to one of the pastors.

Not everyone welcomed Madigan's decision to go to the state's highest court. Democratic Rep. Jack Franks said it would set "a dangerous precedent" for the court to remove a governor as Madigan proposes. Franks, a fierce Blagojevich critic, said that kind of decision should be left to the state General Assembly.

"That's our job, and we should be doing it," he said.

Madigan, who has publicly admitted she is interested in Blagojevich's job, said Friday that she's not thinking about politics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.