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I’m still befuddled by this move

Friday, Aug 26, 2016

* I just don’t understand why the Independent Maps folks made the Illinois Auditor General part of the redistricting process when the Illinois Constitution clearly states that constitutional amendments via citizens’ initiative shall be limited to stuff contained in the legislative article. The Auditor General isn’t in the legislative article.

Judge Mary Mikva, while sympathetic to the Independent Maps’ 2014 effort, clearly warned them back then that their attempt to include remap participants who were outside the scope of Article IV was a very big problem. Yet, they did it again this time by making the auditor general an integral part of their plan. So, is it any wonder why a majority of the Supreme Court teed off on that single aspect?

The reformers spent millions of dollars and expended untold hours of human resources at the local level gathering signatures, and yet they couldn’t read those simple tea leaves provided by Mikva? The remap reformers should’ve known better than to tempt the fates. An abundance of caution should’ve been in order.

If some angry Republicans are right, the majority would’ve found another, more unexpected way to declare this thing unconstitutional. That’s entirely possible. But, for crying out loud, the reformers were given a decent road map in 2014 and they didn’t follow it.

* So, next time (if there is a next time, and I’m betting there will be because this is a great campaign issue for the Republicans - so much so that there are some Democrats who believe the remap reform language was designed to fail), how about following the letter of the Constitution? Did nobody learn anything from the pension reform debacle? When the justices are so inclined, they stick to strict constructionism.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - DGD - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:25 am:

    If the GA must be involved in redistricting, there is no point in pursuing the matter further, because the whole point is to remove politics from redistricting.

  2. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:26 am:

    ===If the GA must be involved in redistricting, there is no point in pursuing the matter further===

    Meh. I’m sure there’s a big brain or three out there who could figure this one out.

  3. - illini97 - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:28 am:

    DGD, unless I’m completely misunderstanding the basis of the ruling, you have it backwards.

    The court is not saying the legislature has to be involved in the citizens initiative. The court said the scope of the initiative cannot reach outside of the legislative branch. when they included the Auditor General, they crossed over into the Executive Branch and violated the procedure for a citizen’s initiative per our Constitution.

  4. - Joe Bidenopolous - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:31 am:

    Who funded the effort? If it was the Gov and his pals, it’s entirely possible that they provided the language, knowing it would be shot down by the court, so they could keep it as a campaign issue. Then again, I can be a bit cynical.

  5. - The Captain - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:32 am:


    I don’t care for this current argument about the false choice that if you favor remap reform then any method should be declared constitutional and pass. The lawyering for Independent Maps was abysmal, what a complete waste of really rich people’s money. Even laypeople could see this approach wasn’t constitutional, just as the district and state supreme courts found.

    Also, my sympathy for these donors only goes so far. Even after it was clear that this thing wasn’t going to pass legal muster they still continued to raise big bucks. They got about $300,000 in just the last month alone, money down the drain.

  6. - lake county democrat - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:32 am:

    Well, I’m being a bit of a hypocrite here because I just cited Mary Mikva’s opinion as supporting the new measure and I think it largely does. That said, what independent reason is there for believing that the majority is right and the minority was wrong. I remember with the first initiative most local law profs who were asked about it thought it passed muster. Were there any *non-partisan* commentators who called this out?

    And as to the main thrust of the post - why tempt fate - no disagreement. But the most important point remains: the state legislature has always had the power to end gerrymandering (or at least put it to a vote of the people). It hasn’t. In an important sense, the rest is noise.

  7. - phocion - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:34 am:

    I don’t know if this argument was made, but it certainly didn’t make it in the majority or dissenting opinion. If the Court is so hell bent on some role for the GA in redistricting, even with the auditor general oversight of the remap process, they do have a role. Article VI, Section III:
    The General Assembly, by a vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each house, shall appoint an Auditor General and may remove him for cause by a similar vote. The Auditor General shall serve for a term of ten years.

  8. - Daniel Plainview - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:35 am:

    The republicans get to keep using the issue, and if Rauner gets re-elected he still carries a big stick in the process.

    What’s there to be confused about?

  9. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:36 am:

    ===I just cited Mary Mikva’s opinion as supporting the new measure and I think it largely does===

    You’re flat-out wrong.

    The majority opinion yesterday focused solely on the Article IV requirement. Mikva clearly warned the reformers about including stuff outside Article IV.

    So, believe what you want, but don’t make up facts.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:36 am:

    Great stuff here, Rich.

    I’ve been confused at all the resources too, and yet the simple framing of this Amendment had significant, serious, and obvious flaws that Judge Mikva already warned the maps folks.

    ===Did nobody learn anything from the pension reform debacle? When the justices are so inclined, they stick to strict constructionism.===

    This here is what, I feel, people are forgetting when railing on this decision.

    ===So, next time … how about following the letter of the Constitution?===

    The blatently way the Amendment was written, it left serious questions about the constitutionality, thus the default response, as with the pension issue, of following the strict interpretation.

    Until the legal minds supporting this movement “understand” why this fails (or decide to purposely writing unambiguous or faulty amendments), we all may see continued amendments “doomed” but designed to serve a purpose anyway.

    The resources used to promote this amendment make me look at this cynically as just a campaign issue for some, and if others are fooled by that intent, so be it.

  11. - Not quite a majority - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:37 am:

    Joe Bidenopolous - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:31 am: hits the nail on the head. Does anyone think abortion, ‘defense of marriage’ or any of a dozen GOP dog whistles are really supposed to get action during legislative years? C’mon! If you actually pass one of these ‘very important’ initiatives, you then have to LIVE with the real world consequences. If Rauner got his Indep. Maps, he might have to live with the legislature it creates — and lose his ‘50-50′ chances, should he manage to survive his own election in ‘18.

  12. - Norseman - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:37 am:

    I still think the proposal would have been tossed due to the court’s “structure and process” rulings. They just didn’t need to go there with this one because of the Auditor General addition.

  13. - walker - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:40 am:

    Yes. Mikva handed them a roadmap, and they decided they were too smart to strictly follow it. I hoped they would find the right path.

    However, it was not a cynical political trick designed to fail. These are sincere people. It was righteous hubris.

  14. - lake county democrat - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:45 am:

    Norseman’s “structure and process” argument is one IIRC that Mikva rejected (not that her ruling would be binding on the state supreme court).

  15. - atsuishin - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:46 am:

    I think a new redistricting reform effort would be a waste of time. Madigan will make sure any effort limit his power over redistricting is knocked down. I would recommend folks in illinois who want a better government simply move. MN, WI, OR are all relatively liberal high tax states with a clean government which may better suite “progressives” in IL. IL is resembles more of combination of ny/mississipi two of the most corrupt states behind only…IL. The cultural in this state does not tolerate reformers. folks like madigan will always win and it is futile to fight them.

  16. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:47 am:

    I’m in the tin foil hat group that thinks it was designed to fail - simply because it’s smart politics to do so. Say it was found constitutional, how would an independent maps process help the republicans enough to force electoral change-up? Would a different maps process have really spliced up minority groups in our largest population centers enough to change the current makeup of the ILGA? Not bloody likely. Isn’t it better politically for republicans in the near and long term to be able to continue beating this wedge-issue shaped drum in House and Senate races every two years? “That evil MJM and those corrupt Supreme Court justices he controls, holding up redistricting reform again! On Election Day, please vote against candidate X, who is a puppet of that dastardly man”

  17. - Belden Ave - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:48 am:

    Maybe The independent map folks will hire Quinn’s losing campaign guru Bill Hyers again so he can call Into another losing campaign from New York

  18. - Norseman - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:49 am:

    All you folks jumping up and down about the Mikva guidance, take a breath. Rich is right about IM’s failure to follow the guidance. That was the easy kill for the court. The other thing to consider is that Mikva’s guidance was only relevant to a Mikva ruling. Other circuit courts could have ruled differently on the matter - legal scholars correct me if I’m wrong.

    The ISOC rulings are based upon their prior decisions (stare decisis) where applicable. Several times the ISOC has ruled against amendments that don’t make “structural and process” changes in the GA.

  19. - walker - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:58 am:

    lcd: Sorry, man I know how much this issue means to you.

  20. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:58 am:

    You have to wonder if this was deliberate on the part of the authors of the proposed referendum; a calculation that it was better to get people angry than to help them get even.

  21. - Federalist - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:59 am:

    I know it is hard, but start over and do it right!
    This is an extraordinarily important issue that should not be left in limbo.

  22. - illini - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:59 am:

    Just repeating my comments on an earlier thread –

    — Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV. —

    All the strict constructionists, the legal purists, and all the laymen who continuously rant and rave against judicial activism should commend the Court for following the statutes as written.

    While I agree that redistricting needs to be addressed, and that there have been ongoing problems with the current process it was fairly evident to me, as a layman, that this change could have caused problems equal to those that it purported to correct.

  23. - Whatever - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:59 am:

    Not surprising given the group’s board, including self-anointed “civic leaders” and insiders like Bill Daley, Jim Edgar, Cheryle Jackson, Manny Flores, etc. and out-of-touch, tin-eared politicians like Corinne Wood and Sheila Simon. You can’t tell these people anything — they’re arrogant know-it-alls.

  24. - Armchair lawyer - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:02 am:

    I don’t know of a single objective lawyer who thought this would make it on the ballot. It was planted to divide the Dems, create more anti-Madigan rhetoric, and give the Governor more ammo to scream about the rigged broken system. The most shocking aspect of this decision is the 3 GOP justices who caved to the Tribune and Rauner. Their opinions aren’t based on law, but political rants.

  25. - muon - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:05 am:

    One problem may be the desire by reformers to put the maximum distance between the political process and the mapping process due to the level of distrust. In 2010 there was a petition effort but it was slow to get off the ground in part because reformers spent too much time trying to get every hint of political involvement removed from the remap process. That delay contributed to the failure to collect enough signatures. Yet the 2009 blue ribbon committee had pointed to Iowa, where the legislature has a role and makes an up or down vote on the independently-drawn maps.

    In 2013 the reform groups took politicians completely out of the process with a 10 year ban on commissioners running for office. The groups were warned during the drafting that that could create constitutional problems, but the strong desire to keep politicians out of the process allowed the language to stay in. Mikva’s ruling cited those same bans on running for office in the 2014 decision as unconstitutional.

    Though this year’s offering corrected the issue of commissioners later running for office, I think the reformers still very much wanted to maximize separation between the legislature and the maps. It’s that fear of any taint from the legislature that continues to hurt their otherwise good work towards reforming the redistricting process.

  26. - Earnest - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:05 am:

    Befuddled is a great word. It’s a great campaign issue–accumulate more voters for the database and bash Madigan and democrats with it. The money doesn’t mean anything to Rauner. As an added bonus: continued distraction from his deliberate destruction of the human service and higher education systems and the ever-increasing leverage from the ever-deeper budget hole he’s making. On top of it all, does he really want map reform or does he want the map for himself?

  27. - atsuishin - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:18 am:

    == people angry than to help them get even. ==

    Do you honestly think “people” are paying attention to this redistricting fight, much less angry about it? These are the same “people” who returned rod blagovich to office and gave daley II 5 five terms. The people had a chance to rewrite the constitution all together but instead vote against it because it was “too expensive.”

  28. - Joe Bidenopolous - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:18 am:

    Adding to what I wrote earlier…would an “independent” map really result in a Republican majority? Probably not. Their best hope for that is probably the drawing from ol’ Lincoln’s hat - they have a 50/50 opportunity there. Does anyone think they’d have a 50% chance at a majority under an “independent” map? I don’t. #designedtofail

  29. - Armchair lawyer - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:23 am:

    ==- atsuishin - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:46 am:

    I would recommend folks in illinois who want a better government simply move. MN, WI, OR are all relatively liberal high tax states with a clean government which may better suite “progressives” in IL. IL is resembles more of combination of ny/mississipi two of the most corrupt states behind only…IL. The cultural in this state does not tolerate reformers. folks like madigan will always win and it is futile to fight them.==

    Are you serious? You’re calling Wisconsin a “clean state”? Minnesota? Oregon maybe, but even they have their political squabbles.

    Why do you think Illinois is so corrupt? Because Rauner and the GOP say it is? There’s plenty of room for TRUE reformers, and some of them are a part of Madigan’s leadership team. Do they always win- no. But there isn’t one clear definition of reformer.

    I’m so tired of people screaming corruption or rigged system when they don’t get their way. That’s corruption. That’s what’s wrong with the system and why people can’t have reasonable, meaningful dialogue.

  30. - Biker - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:27 am:

    =The majority opinion yesterday focused solely on the Article IV requirement=

    Taking a break from re-map, our referendum ability in Illinois is severely limited in Illinois because we are only allowed to petition for changes to Article 4.

    Almost without exception, only states that have broad referendum power have legalized marijuana, or other common sense reforms that elected officials are simply unwilling to represent their constituents on.

    Maybe the real change to Article 4 that we should fight for in the future is simply the ability for citizen led referendum petitions to be able to address any state law or part of the constitution outside of Article 4.

  31. - DGD - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:27 am:

    “Armchair lawyer” should read “Madigan Staffer”.

  32. - August West - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:29 am:

    The simplest explanation is usually the best: It was designed to fail. Who called the shots and why they wanted it to fail is the pertinent question.

    That may sound simplistic, but stupid/naive doesn’t pass the sniff test as an explanation, so intentional foot-shooting is the only thing left.

  33. - August West - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:33 am:

    ==Why do you think Illinois is so corrupt? Because Rauner and the GOP say it is?==

    No, not at all. How could anyone ever get the notion that Illinois is corrupt? An obvious GOP plot!

  34. - Just Me - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:37 am:

    Not sure I agree with you, Rich. The majority ruling says that only legislators or their (partisan) appointees can draw up a map. The whole point of this proposal was to remove legislators as much as possible.

  35. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:38 am:

    ===The majority ruling says that only legislators or their (partisan) appointees can draw up a map===

    You got language to back that up?

  36. - Annonin' - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:43 am:

    Capt Fax is right. It is nearly impossible to understand how the 1%ers/BigBrain/SuperStars who controlled IM could bungle this so badly…The IL Constitution —not Mary Mikva, Madigan, etc. etc. sez initiatives can amend Article 4 (IV for those who prefer the Latin) The WallStreet banker and the guy who wrecked the Tribune tried to get cute and amend 3. They failed, again. BLNT

  37. - Annonin' - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:46 am:

    BTW “some bigbrain” could look to HJR-CA 58 for guidance.
    However we want to know what IL looks like after all the competitive elections

  38. - Anon221 - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 11:57 am:

    I’ll join the tin-foil hat club on this one. Either really bad execution of the overall plan by Rauner and Co., or long-term Snidley Whiplash planning for continued campaignin’. Or… both once they saw the plan was not going to pass muster, and they decided to “turnaround” the loss into political gain on the endless campaign trail.

  39. - muon - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 12:08 pm:

    Annonin’ - I don’t know how much guidance HJRCA 58 would be. There are parts that were rejected as unconstitutional in 2014, such as restrictions on running for office. During debate in the House it was mentioned that HJRCA 58 could not be a citizen initiative, but because it was a legislative act it could improve on what could be done by initiative. The legislature does not have the restriction on amendments that initiatives do.

  40. - X-prof - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 12:24 pm:

    ‘ I just don’t understand why the Independent Maps folks made the Illinois Auditor General part of the redistricting process …’

    I’m no political maven, but could the answer be the same as why Rauner waited until it was almost too late to appoint TRS board members, why the current TRS board tried to fix the missing * after it was too late, etc. etc.? That is, simple incompetence.

  41. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 12:42 pm:

    The Governor and his wealthy pals bemoan the “corrupt” court. It is difficult for them to accept that money doesn’t control everything. Maybe, they should have paid attention to Judge Mikva’s ruling. She seemed to tell them that there is a way to get what they want but hubris prohibits them from following directions. Rauner will have a hard time running for president in four years on a record of failure to achieve any of his objectives. Since the map for the 2018 election isn’t going to change, he’ll have to search for a way to get something done that doesn’t include a GOP majority. Oops, time for plan B.

  42. - Amalia - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 1:29 pm:

    so who makes money/fame off the effort to try and get this done, and who benefits by the failure and are there any links. just wondering.

  43. - Kirk C. Jenkins - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 1:34 pm:

    This doesn’t read like a blowout for the opponents of the initiative. 4-3 decisions are very rare on the Court - the Court decides a very high percentage of its cases unanimously, and only 5.9% of civil decisions 2000-2015 had three dissenters. The initiative lost on only one point of a broad constitutional attack. I agree with Rich - it’s a long way from being clear that a new initiative, drafted with the Court’s jurisprudence and the constitutional debates firmly in mind, couldn’t pass muster.

  44. - Anti-m - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 1:49 pm:

    - atsuishin - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 10:46 am:

    Every state has its’ own corruption. Illinois is one of just a few states that is public about it.

    By the way, you also forgot about the corruption in Kentucky, Alabama, New Jersey, Georgia, New Mexico and Pennsylvania as being at par with Illinois. Don’t think New York and Mississippi are completely in that category though.

  45. - Flying Illini - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 3:32 pm:

    I agree with the overall assessment: either the Independent Maps folks are idiots or this was set up to fail. (”This shows how broken our system is! Even the courts are fixed! Vote out Mike Madigan and his cronies!” etc., etc.) I don’t think they’re idiots.

    Frankly, my most disappointing part in this was that the court was split along partisan lines. I would have much preferred a unanimous court, spoonfeeding how this can be done constitutionally.

    Where do you start for re-map amendment? “The GA shall not redistrict the Legislative Districts and Representative Districts.” (The structural change.) It takes some creative drafting from there, whether it’s balanced GA appointments and the appointees pick a chair or just saying the GA has to figure it out (the procedural change), but it has to be balanced and if the GA doesn’t pass legislation that meets the requirements, the minority party gets to write the map.

    That’s me (not the smartest person by far) with 10 minutes of thought. If your bottom line is that the GA shouldn’t do redistricting since it just entrenches the majority and is self-serving, surely, this can be written without mentioning other people outside the GA.

  46. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 26, 16 @ 3:36 pm:

    Designed to fail, the same as Rauner’s term-limits referendum. Gather voter data, keep the issue alive to run on.

    It’s not reasonable to think that proponents could not get adequate legal counsel.

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