[This post has been bumped up for visibility.]
* The Illinois Supreme Court has blocked the remap reform amendment from appearing on the ballot. The 4-3 opinion, written by Democratic Justice Thomas Kilbride and decided on partisan lines, completely centers around the last four words of article XIV, section 3 of the Illinois Constitution…
Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.
Article IV deals with legislative duties, powers, etc.
* From the opinion…
(T)he framers of our constitution intended this court alone “to determine whether constitutional requirements for a proposed amendment were satisfied.” Coalition I , 65 Ill. 2d at 462. That role does not require us to read between the lines of every proposal in an attempt to discern the propriety of the proponent’s underlying intentions; our role is solely to determine whether the proposal comports with the strict limitations set out in article XIV, section 3. […]
As presently constituted, article IV does not mention the “subject” of the Auditor General’s office or its duties, even in passing. Moreover, the additional duties the ballot initiative imposes on the Auditor General creates changes that neither “‘attack [n]or *** concern the actual structure or makeup of the legislature itself.’ ” Coalition I , 65 Ill. 2d at 470 (quoting 4 Proceedings 2911 (statements of Delegate Perona)). Therefore, the duties of the Auditor General have never been and are not now a “subject contained in Article IV” as currently constituted. Thus, that provision is not a proper “subject” of the legislative article, in violation of the limitation in article XIV, section 3.
Finally, Independent Maps makes the policy argument that upholding the circuit court’s finding that the plaintiffs were entitled to judgment on the pleadings will “make it largely impossible to make meaningful reforms in the redistricting process.” We respectfully disagree. The Auditor General is not the only potential nonlegislative actor capable of filling the duties outlined in its proposal. Certainly Illinois has other offices or individuals that are unencumbered by the limitations expressed in Article XIV. Indeed, the scheme proffered in the instant proposal is not the only model of redistricting reform that could be imagined. The constitutional right of the citizens of this state to alter the legislative article by ballot initiative is not tied to any particular plan, and we trust that the constitutional confines of article XIV, section 3, are sufficiently broad to encompass more than one potential redistricting scheme.
* From Justice Karmeier’s dissent…
The amendment proposed by Independent Maps would supply the requisite authority for the Auditor General’s participation in the process. That the additional authorization would appear in a different constitutional provision than the one in which the Auditor General’s basic duties are defined poses no constitutional problem. Nothing in the 1970 Constitution requires that all of a constitutional officer’s responsibilities be set out in a si ngle article, and such is certainly not the case with respect to the redistricting-related duties of this court and the Attorney General under the current redistricting mechanism.
Moreover, the additional duties the Auditor General would assume under the amendment would not alter any of the responsibilities the Auditor General already possesses under article VIII. To the extent the Auditor General’s duties would change, the change would pertain solely and exclusively to the redistricting process, which, as set forth earlier, is a structural and procedural subject of article IV and therefore subject to amendment under article XIV, section 3 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIV, § 3). The change would have no effect at all beyond that limited sphere.
When the delegates to the 1970 Constitution drafted article XIV, section 3, as they did, they were mindful that attempts could be made to circumvent their intention and use the initiative process as a substitute for legislative action by the General Assembly or to make substantive changes to the constitution unrelated to legislative article. See Coalition I , 65 Ill. 2d at 468; CBA I , 137 Ill. 2d at 401-04. That is why they made clear that any amendment proposed under article XIV, section 3, “would be required to be limited to subjects contained in the Legislative Article, namely matters of structure and procedure and not matters of substantive policy.” 6 Proceedings 1400. In no sense would inclusion of the Auditor General in the redistricting process run afoul of these concerns. It is not an attempt to bypass the General Assembly’s authority to enact legislation, nor is it a subterfuge to alter other substantive provisions of the constitution. As I have just noted, the change pertains solely and exclusively to the redistricting mechanism of article IV, section 3, which the amendment proposed by Independent Maps’ initiative would replace. Taking into account the limited subject matter to which the initiative power may be applied under article XIV, section 3, while construing article XIV, section 3’s provisions “so as to effectuate [its] basic purpose ***, to provide a workable initiative scheme unfettered by restraints which unnecessarily inhibit the rights which article XIV confers” ( Coalition II , 83 Ill. 2d at 247), I would hold that plaintiffs ’ challenge to that aspect of the proposed initiative in count I of their complaint must therefore be rejected.
* Expect this dissent to get plenty of media play…
But the three Republican justices on the court each wrote separate dissenting opinions, including a stinging rejection of the majority view by Justice Robert Thomas.
Thomas said the majority’s action should “include a bright orange warning sticker for readers to paste over” the citizen-initiative section of the constitution that reads “Out of Service.”
“Today, just as a critical election board deadline is about to expire, four members of our court have delivered, as a fait accompli, nothing less than the nullification of a critical component of the Illinois Constitution of 1970,” Thomas wrote.
“The majority has irrevocably severed a vital lifeline created by the drafters for the express purpose of enabling later generations of Illinoisans to use their sovereign authority as a check against self-interest by the legislature,” he wrote.
His dissent began: “The Illinois constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not to enshrine it.” And concludes: “Today a muzzle has been placed on the people of this State, and their voices supplanted with judicial fiat. The whimper you hear is democracy stifled. I join that muted chorus of dissent.”