* I told subscribers about this earlier today in some detail…
Prosecutors in Chicago are telling state lawmakers they can essentially ignore a federal court ruling and not legalize concealed carry in Illinois.
The Illinois House on Tuesday held the first of two statewide hearings on how to legally allow people to carry a gun in the state. Illinois is the only state in the nation that bars anyone from carrying a pistol outside their home. In December, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said Illinois must change that.
But Paul Castiglione, policy director for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, told lawmakers there is no need for a new law.
“Only the Illinois Supreme Court can declare a statue from (the legislature) unconstitutional,” Castiglione told lawmakers Tuesday. “I heard (someone) say that after 180 days our UUW (unlawful use of weapon) statute is unconstitutional. Not so.”
“Until the Supreme Court of the United States has spoken, state courts are not precluded from exercising their own judgments on federal constitutional measures,” said Paul Castiglione, representing the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. “Because lower federal courts exercise no appellate jurisdiction over state courts, decisions of lower federal courts are not conclusive on state courts.”
“After 180 days, anyone who decided, for example, to walk down Michigan Avenue in Chicago carrying an AK-15 would be subject to arrest and prosecution for violating the [Unlawful Use of Weapons Act,]” said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Castiglione. He said the Cook County state’s attorney’s office intends to enforce the Illinois Unlawful Use of Weapons statute, which outlaws carrying guns in public, after the deadline, unless lawmakers change it or the Illinois Supreme Court finds it unconstitutional. “The lower federal courts, either the district courts or the courts of appeal, cannot tell the Illinois Supreme court how to rule or whether or not that law is constitutional. The only court that can resolve that split is the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The Illinois Supreme Court is currently reviewing another carry case, People v. Aguilar. “The real trigger for when this committee and this legislature has to act, I submit, is if and when the Illinois Supreme Court ever decides that the [Unlawful Use of Weapons] statute is unconstitutional.”
Click to watch
* That belief is not shared by others, however…
Rep. Mike Zalewski, a former prosecutor, immediately questioned Castiglione’s suggestion that lawmakers are not under a “ticking clock” to act, saying the Alvarez aide “kind of dropped a pretty big rhetorical bomb on some of us.”
“We should tread carefully, tread lightly on that specific conclusion because we’re charged with passing a constitutional statute down here in the next 60 to 90 days or so,” said Zalewski, D-Chicago.
Ronald Rotunda, an expert on the Illinois Constitution, sided with Zalewski.
“Whenever the 7th Circuit and the Illinois Supreme Court have a conflict, the federal court will win,” said Rotunda, a constitutional law professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.
The National Rifle Association says it’s non-negotiable:
Public-transportation users should to be allowed to carry guns on buses and trains.
The question surfaced during a hearing Tuesday aimed at meeting a federal court demand to draw up legislation permitting Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons. A top NRA lobbyist said he won’t bend on allowing bus and train riders to arm themselves.
“I don’t believe people who need public transportation to get around should be prohibited from exercising their constitutional right,” said lobbyist Todd Vandermyde, who later questioned the contradiction of a motorist being allowed to carry a gun in their vehicle but not a mass transit customer. […]
Last week, the leaders of the Chicago Transit Authority, Regional Transportation Authority, Metra, Pace and others wrote to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), calling the idea dangerous and warning it could lead to “catastrophic” results.
“The issue is that you’re dealing with a confined space where the public expects some safety,” Jordan Matyas, the RTA’s chief of staff, told the Sun-Times. “This is just going to lead to problems, and it will lead to what we believe is a lack of security and safety and possibly reduce ridership.”
I would hope the RTA had compiled some stats from other states with concealed carry to back up their nightmare scenario, but I doubt they do.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Gov Pat Quinn told reporters today that the state needs to comply with the federal appellate court order.
Quinn added, however, that he doesn’t want people carrying concealed weapons on mass transit.
*** UPDATE 2 *** The NRA points to an Illinois Supreme Court decision in People v. Nance…
Finally, the State and the City cannot evade the Landry injunction by arguing that the state courts of Illinois are not bound by decisions of lower federal courts.
As a general rule, the interpretation given to Illinois statutes by the lower federal courts is not conclusive on the courts of this state. Hanrahan v. Williams, 174 Ill.2d 268, 277, 220 Ill.Dec. 339, 673 N.E.2d 251 (1996). That rule, however, is addressed to the situation where the federal court’s decision is being invoked as precedent on a point of law. In the case before us, the Landry decision is not being cited for its legal analysis. Whether the federal court’s analysis is correct is irrelevant.
Whatever one thinks of the federal district court’s reasoning, its decision is binding because it constitutes a valid judgment by a duly-constituted tribunal on the same question presented here and prohibits the same prosecuting officials involved in this case from enforcing the same statute against the same class of defendants to which the defendant in this case belongs.