Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed a federal lawsuit Monday, arguing his civil rights were violated when the Illinois State Senate banned him from running for state or local office.
The former governor served more than seven years of a 14-year prison sentence after he was convicted of trying to sell the Senate seat of then-President-Elect Barack Obama. His sentence was commuted in February 2020 by then-President Donald Trump after months of speculation.
More than a decade earlier, in 2009, the Illinois General Assembly removed Blagojevich as governor and barred him from seeking elected office in Illinois ever again.
In a federal civil rights complaint, Blagojevich, now 64, declared what happened to him was unconstitutional, because he was denied the right to call witnesses and to cross-examine the government’s witnesses. The governor also claimed he was denied the right to present evidence, especially certain undercover tapes.
And as a result, according to the court filings, people have been denied the right to vote (for him).
“It’s about the people’s right to make the choice, not a bunch of politicians,” the former governor said Monday.
While Blagojevich isn’t prohibited from running for federal office, the former governor says he has no plans, but wouldn’t rule anything out. Along with seeking state or local office, practicing law is also no-go.
In May of 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court officially disbarred Blagojevich two months after a state panel recommended that the disgraced politician lose his law license.
The court’s decision was hardly a surprise and Blagojevich, whose license was suspended indefinitely after his 2008 arrest, did not fight to regain it.
Through his lawsuit, the former governor explained he hopes to right wrongs and shape a legacy about more than a corruption case and time in jail.
“Perish the thought, but if I were to drop dead right here, my obituary in tomorrow’s paper would not be that good,” Blagojevich said Monday.