* Yesterday, we took a look at an analysis by legal expert and Supreme Court watcher Kurt Jenkins. I followed up with Jenkins later in the day with this e-mail…
I’m curious how you think the Supreme Court roll call will break out on a pension bill. Doubt you can speculate much without an actual law, but wondered anyway.
Jenkins said I was right that he’d be hesitant to speculate, but he did offer this…
I think a few things are clear from the Court’s recent history. I don’t agree that the Kilbride Court is a political court; I think their opinions show it’s a pragmatic and fairly cautious one.
It’s deeply ingrained in appellate judges to be reluctant to step in and strike down what the political branches have done. They’ll only vote to overturn a statute if they feel they have no other choice, and that’s particularly true in a case like this that’s clearly important to the state.
So those attacking whatever bill the legislature passes will certainly have the burden of proof before the Court; this isn’t a race that starts out even.
That said, I think we’ll get a much clearer picture of the Court’s inclinations relatively soon. As you know, they’ve got the Kanerva v. Weems pension case in front of them now. It may well be heard on the September docket – if not, then certainly no later than the November docket. We’ll know far more about what the Justices’ concerns in this area of the law after seeing the Kanerva argument.
* Meanwhile, some of y’all have wildly overreacted to the news that Speaker Madigan predicted his pension plan would get a majority of at least four votes on the Illinois Supreme Court. But Madigan has insisted that he didn’t have any contact with any of the justices, he was just speculating. So, you can probably remove your tinfoil hats.
* Regardless, the questions continue. Tom Kacich…
Does Madigan really have that much clout, I asked [former state Rep. Bill Black], that he can practically tell the Supreme Court how to rule on a major constitutional issue?
That’s not it, said Black. It’s that Madigan knows the Supreme Court members’ backgrounds and how they interact.
“I don’t think Sherlock Holmes would ever be able to trace any indication, verbal, written in code or whatever, that Mike Madigan would ever suggest to a Supreme Court justice how they should find a certain case. And I don’t think he would do so,” said Black, who served for 14 years in the Illinois House with Madigan.
“But I do think he has a very keen knowledge how that court works. And he certainly has a keen knowledge of where those people came from. I think that gives him an advantage. If anybody could understand how they would react to anything, it’s probably Speaker Madigan.”