Then and now
Monday, Jun 30, 2014 - Posted by Rich Miller
* From an August 12, 1994 Chicago Tribune editorial published after the Illinois Supreme Court tossed then-Treasurer Pat Quinn’s term limits constitutional amendment off the ballot…
The question to consider is, what has the public lost with this ruling? The answer is, nothing much.
No one has lost the right to vote for or against any candidate. No one has lost the right to contribute money to, or otherwise support, any challenger to an incumbent. No one has lost the right to run himself or herself against an incumbent. In short, the grand procedures and traditions of American politics have not been disturbed.
Term limits are a crude weapon wielded to voice the frustration many people feel about national and local politics.
A term-limit drive is an easy way to slap politicians. It requires no one to assess a voting record, or read a campaign brochure, or watch a political debate and make a knowledgeable decision. It’s a good bet that, if this amendment were on the ballot, voters would approve it, and at the same time re-elect an overwhelming majority of veteran incumbents.
Illinoisans need not feel put out about the court’s decision. But if they’re angry, they can still find some recourse in the political system.
Don’t get mad, get involved.
As you will recall, Illinois had a Republican governor and a GOP-controlled state Senate back then.
* Twenty years later, the Trib is now supporting Bruce Rauner’s term limit proposal and was angry that it didn’t pass constitutional muster…
Citizens of Illinois: Your constitution is stacked against you. And there’s not much you can do about it.
Judge Mary Mikva made that official on Friday, invalidating two voter-driven amendments aimed at the Nov. 4 ballot.
It was a ruling based on the narrow interpretations of the constitution’s language in previous rulings by the Illinois Supreme Court.
But it’s a big loss for the citizens who demanded a greater say in how their state is run — and a big win for the politicians who are supposed to represent them. […]
n the merits, both measures would pass, hands down. Year after year, polls have shown consistent voter support for such reforms — and growing disgust with the state’s insular political culture.
That’s why House Speaker Michael Madigan has pulled out the stops to avoid an up-or-down vote. These people-power amendments are a potent threat to his grip on state government. He does not want them on the ballot.
Times change, and, apparently, so do opinions.
* Meanwhile, here is Eric Zorn’s excerpt from Friday’s ruling…
(The Illinois Supreme Court has) ruled that the Free and Equal Clause of Section 3 of Article III of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 is a limitation on initiatives. The court has held that the Free and Equal clause prohibits the combination of separate and unrelated questions in a single proposition on any initiative, including an initiative to amend the Constitution (by petition)….
(The addition by term limit backers) of other components, like changing the number of legislative districts and representative districts and the number of votes necessary to override a governors veto, which may well be structural or procedural, cannot save this initiative because any (such) initiative … must be “limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in (the portion of the constitution dealing with the legislature.”…
The inclusion of these other components also puts this initiative in conflict with the Free and Equal clause ….. Separate questions in an initiative must be “reasonably related to a common objective in a workable manner.”…
Term limits may reasonably be related to staggered two-and four years senatorial terms. Yet term limits do not appear to have any direct relationship either to increasing the size of the House of Representatives and decreasing the size of the Senate or to the vote threshold needed to override the governor’s veto.
While the Term Limits Committee argues that all provisions are directed to an increase in legislative responsiveness and a reduction in the influence of narrow, partisan, or special interest, these objectives are so broad that they cannot be viewed as bases to bring these component parts into a consistent, workable home. Thus the term limits initiative is in conflict with the Free and Equal clause….
The redistricting initiative contains provisions that are neither structural nor procedural… And, therefore, the initiative is not limited to the structural and procedural subjects in article IV.