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SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Rod Blagojevich often jokes he was a C-average student in law school.

Judging by his administration's track record in court, he may have been lucky to get those grades.

Last week, a federal judge ruled a Blagojevich-backed ban on violent video game sales to minors was unconstitutional. It marked at least the seventh time the governor has lost a high-profile case in court.

In addition to the decision on video games, Blagojevich has lost arguments with state and federal judges over plans to downsize an Air National Guard wing in Springfield, mortgage a state-owned office building in Chicago and allow telephone giant SBC to double certain rates it charges competitors.

He even tangled — and lost — a fight with state judges over legislation that would give the judges a pay raise.

A political scientist said the governor's record of court losses could become a political liability.

"It could come back to haunt him," said political analyst Kent Redfield of the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Redfield said the number of losses could be used by an opponent to build a perception that Blagojevich doesn't think issues through before acting on them.

"They could say he devotes energy and resources to questionable legal cases," said Redfield.

On some legal issues, Blagojevich has a mixed record.

In one of his first acts upon taking office in January 2003, the governor fired a number of people hired by his predecessor, George Ryan, saying they had illegally altered state rules in order to protect their jobs.

In the end, after several court cases moved through the legal system, many of those workers returned to work for the state.

As for the governor's push to ban the sale of violent video games to minors, the governor says he will appeal the judges' ruling.

"We knew from the beginning that other attempts have run into challenges. That's why we drafted our language differently," said Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff. "We think that parents have a right to expect that their kids are not going to be able to get excessively violent and graphically sexual video games without their permission.

"Do you think we just lay down and roll over on this one?" Ottenhoff asked.

The case is expected to be heard by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has already ruled a similar ban was unconstitutional.


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