* From an op-ed by Kent Redfield on the proposed constitutional amendment to reform redistricting…
This redistricting amendment is straightforward: Create an independent commission of Illinois citizens who would draw state maps in a transparent way, using nonpartisan, criteria. Those criteria would include keeping together communities of common interests — economic, social, racial, linguistic or cultural.
They also include respecting existing city and geographic boundaries and complying with state and federal voting rights laws. And the criteria prohibit the commission from favoring one political party over another or using district boundaries to reward or punish any incumbent legislator.
The number of signatures collected showing support for putting the proposal on the ballot make it unlikely a challenge to their validity will be successful. My reading of the proposal is in agreement with many experts who believe the Illinois Supreme Court will turn back any legal challenge to the proposal.
Yet political leaders in control of the legislature are laying the groundwork to challenge this measure.
Why use precious resources against long odds? The risk does offer a reward. If efforts to block the proposal from being on the November ballot are successful, it will relieve those in power from having to defend the failed status quo.
During the debate over the constitutional convention several years ago, I argued forcefully and repeatedly for a convention based mostly on this one issue of redistricting reform. Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to choose their own voters.
* But there’s a real constitutional issue here. This is what the Illinois Constitution says about citizen amendment initiatives…
Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV
Article IV is the General Assembly’s article.
* But this is from the proposed amendment’s language on the composition of the Redistricting Commission…
For ten years after service as a Commissioner or Special Commissioner, a person is ineligible to serve as a Senator, Representative, officer of the Executive Branch, Judge, or Associate Judge of the State or an officer or employee of the State whose appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate.
By prohibiting people from running for judge or statewide office for ten years, the proposal goes well beyond anything in Article IV.
And that’s a real problem, no matter what the merits of the issue of redistricting reform itself may be. I can understand the reform reasoning for putting that campaign ban in there, but I don’t yet see the constitutional support for it.