January 26, 2009
House Bailout for Illinois Conditioned Upon Blagojevich Removal
The House bailout plan--H.R. 1--contains an extraordinary provision apparently designed to deny funds to Illinois as long as embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich has any control over them (!). Read here:
None of the funds provided by this Act may be made available to the State of Illinois, or any agency of the State, unless (1) the use of such funds by the State is approved in legislation enacted by the State after the date of the enactment of this Act, or (2) Rod R. Blagojevich no longer holds the office of Governor of the State of Illinois. The preceding sentence shall not apply to any funds provided directly to a unit of local government (1) by a Federal department or agency, or (2) by an established formula from the State.
H.R. 1, sec. 1112.
Whatever we think about Blagojevich, this is a clear federal impingement on the operations of a state government and sets a very bad precedent. (Blagojevich will certainly be removed from office soon, thus rendering the issue moot. This language therefore won't be tested and will remain on the books (absent an amendment) as a bad precedent for the federal government intruding into the internal operations of a sovereign state.)
The spending condition fails under South Dakota v. Dole, because it bears no relationship to the federal interest in the bailout program. But even if we stretch things to say that the condition relates to a federal interest in fiscal responsibility (because Blagojevich simply can't be trusted with any public money), the condition fails under Coyle v. Oklahoma. Remember that case? Justice O'Connor cited it in her dissent in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority for the claim that some federal intrusions into the operations of state governments--in Coyle, the federal government dictating the location of the state capital--"undermine the state sovereignty inherent in the Tenth Amendment." Here, no different: The federal bailout spending requirement that Illinois remove its governor--or, equally bad, that it time its legislation to meet federal standards--simply goes too far.
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