Supporters of a proposed amendment that would reform how
state legislative districts are laid out, have struck back at a lawsuit to
block a referendum on the amendment, which was filed by a group aligned with
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, saying the amendment – contrary to what
opponents claim – would comply with the state constitution.
The proposed so-called Independent Map Amendment was
launched as an attempt by a group of Illinoisans seeking to wrest from the
Illinois General Assembly - and the party leaders that dominate it - the task
of redrawing Illinois’ legislative districts every 10 years. Critics have said
the process is needlessly political and partisan, resulting in gerrymandered
districts that allow incumbents and party leaders to unduly influence the
selection of legislators in Springfield.
The amendment would entrust the Illinois Auditor General,
two justices of the Illinois Supreme Court and others with picking an 11?member
committee, which would determine district lines based on, among other factors,
the district’s total population, while respecting minority populations, city
limits and other boundaries.
A group called People’s Map filed for an injunction May 11
in Cook County Circuit Court, asking the court to toss the proposed amendment
before voters get a chance to weigh in. The attorney for the group is Michael
Kasper, a lawyer with the Chicago-based nationwide firm of Hinshaw &
Culbertson, who also serves as general counsel for the Illinois Democratic
Party. The Madigan-backed People’s Map is comprised of a number of current and
former Chicago officials and community leaders.
While the Independent Map Amendment has secured double the
number of signatures required to put the proposition on the November 2016
ballot, the People’s Map group allege the amendment would violate safeguards
contained in the 1970 Illinois Constitution. They also say the process should
be controlled by elected officials, and not an independent group chosen by
A group that favors the amendment, Support Independent Maps,
filed a motion June 3 as an intervener in the case, to deny the Madigan group’s
request for an injunction. Support Independent Maps is represented by the
Chicago-headquartered global firm of Mayer Brown and is made up of a cross-section
of Republicans and Democrats, commerce and civic leaders.
Opponents maintain the amendment will do the following:
impose new duties on the Auditor General; strip the Illinois Supreme Court of
its oversight of redistricting; require Supreme Court justices to declare a
political affiliation; and doesn’t allow the Illinois Attorney General to sue
“in the name of the People of the State of Illinois concerning redistricting.”
Opponents of the proposed amendment allege these actions
would breach the passage in Article XIV of the Illinois Constitution that
requires ballot initiatives to address “structural and procedural subjects
contained in Article IV.” Article XIV deals with the ballot initiative process
and Article IV with legislative redistricting procedures.
Supporters countered that a reading of the state
constitution shows redistricting – or “apportionment,” as written in the state constitution
– is “precisely the type of subject that the framers created a ballot
initiative to address.” Amendment advocates added state high court decisions
have confirmed this interpretation.
Amendment champions further contend the 1970 state
constitutional convention delegates “recognized as a ‘fundamental fact of life’
that legislators have a ‘vested interest in the legislative branch’ which would
make them less likely to propose needed changes . . . As the delegates
recognized more than forty-five years ago, it is particularly ‘critical’ that
citizens be allowed to put a proposal aimed at reforming the redistricting
process directly to the voters.”
Map amendment foes also allege the amendment would violate
Article III of the state constitution by presenting “separate and unrelated
questions in a single ballot proposition.” They defined those questions as
pertaining to the following: the General Assembly’s power to draft
redistricting maps; jurisdiction of state courts; duties and political
affiliations of Illinois Supreme Court justices; and duties of the auditor
general, attorney general and secretary of state.
Amendment proponents replied the amendment would not be a
“collection of disparate provisions relating to matters scattered throughout
the Constitution.” Instead, the proposed changes have a “common thread” – they
relate directly to redistricting.
The next hearing is scheduled for June 30. Circuit Judge
Diane J. Larsen has been presiding over the case.