Tom Geoghegan was on Fox News with Greg Jarrett yesterday, talking about the lawsuit he's filed to force a special election to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat and force Roland Burris to stand aside:
If the General Assembly or the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee isn’t prepared to unseat Sen. Roland Burris, labor lawyer and 5th Congressional District candidate Tom Geoghegan is ready to take on the fight.
At a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building this morning, Geoghegan -- along with co-counsels Scott Frankel, Rob Cohen, and former alderman Marty Oberman -- announced that he has filed a suit in federal court against the state of Illinois and Gov. Pat Quinn seeking a special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
The plaintiffs claim that neither former Gov. Rod Blagojevich nor Quinn issued a “writ of elections to fill senate vacancies” as required by the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Currently, Illinois follows a legal proviso in the amendment that allows the governor to “make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislatures may direct.” Geogeghan and his colleagues are not suggesting that Burris’ appointment was illegal—rather, it represents a temporary placeholder until the state could marshal the resources to hold a statewide election. (Geogeghan first laid out this argument in a New York Times op-ed published a few days after Burris’ appointment in January.)
Speaking to a large assembling of reporters, Geoghegan outlined three purposes for the suit: to “end the embarrassing stalemate” that is the Blagojevich-Burris charade, to establish rules so the people can vote for their elected officials, and to assure that the government is conducted by the rule of law. “This is why I went to law school” he said. “And the Constitution exists to make sure the democratic rights of the people are secured.”
Jarrett worries that whatever publicity gains Geoghegan might be making with this suit may well be offset by more mundane considerations:
Jarrett: Let me get one more in here because we're running out of time. There's a group of African American aldermen, they're vowing to help black voters punish any politician who seeks to remove Burris. That would include you. Does that strike you as a racially motivated threat?
Geoghegan: Greg, I am a labor lawyer, and I also bring civil-rights cases. I'm a civil-rights lawyer. My view is that both white and black and all citizens of the state of Illinois want to stop political corruption. That's the issue here. It's not a matter of race, it's a matter of enforcing the people's right to vote.
You know, if we want the right to recall elected officials, we at least ought to have the right to elect our senators directly.
Jarrett: Well, Tom, these black aldermen are going to come after you. You know that, because you're trying to get rid of Roland Burris, albeit in a very, very legal way. And they're going to come after you.
This seems overheated to me, but then, I'm not from Chicago. In the meantime, it never hurts to go help out progressive heroes like Geoghegan.