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Attorney General Raoul tries to stop lawmakers from collecting back pay

Friday, Aug 30, 2019

* Rebecca Anzel

The state’s attorney general says two former lawmakers should not receive back pay for frozen cost-of-living increases and forced furlough days because they previously voted to approve the two laws and waited “for so long” to file a lawsuit challenging their constitutionality.

Those laws, a Cook County judge ruled last month, violated an article of the state’s governing document that dictates legislators’ wages cannot be changed during the terms for which they were elected.

Judge Franklin Valderrama’s ruling was a partial win for two former senators — Democrats Michael Noland, from Elgin, and James Clayborne Jr., from Belleville — who sued for lost wages. […]

The two voted “fourteen separate times over the course of nine years” in support of the statutes which their lawsuit claims are unconstitutional, the document states. It adds that Noland filed the case six months after he left office, and Clayborne joined the suit seven months after he announced his retirement from the General Assembly.

Go read the rest.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments
  1. - Responsa - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    It is difficult to muster sympathy for these two former “Lawmakers”. Still, the law is to be applied based on what it is, not on what we wish it to be, or who the specific litigants are.


  2. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:45 am:

    Karma.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:46 am:

    - Responsa -, well said.

    Yeah, because these specific litigants have a history as the AG sees it, or a personal belief the AG seems to have on applying the law here, I’m fully opposed to anything that prohibits or infringes paying legislators what is owed.

    We can’t as a state continually have others decide what the constitution says in regards to paying legislators, especially if it’s a personal thing or a political thing, but most importantly to make legislators do or vote as another requires.

    In this case, they are owed, according to the legislators. What does the constitution say?


  4. - Yiddishcowboy - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:47 am:

    Hmmm. Some sort of estoppel argument might be an interesting way to proceed against the former lawmakers.


  5. - JS Mill - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:52 am:

    Responsa is correct on all points.


  6. - yeah - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:52 am:

    ==In this case, they are owed, according to the legislators. What does the constitution say?==

    They abrogated their own “rights”

    They voted for the laws that imposed the furlough days and COLA freezes. It would be one thing if they’d voted against the laws, saying they were unconstitutional, but they didn’t. They did the politically smart thing and now that they’re out of office, they want to turn back the clock.

    They’re essentially asking the court to protect them from themselves. It’s absurd.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:55 am:

    ===They’re essentially asking the court to protect them from themselves. It’s absurd.===

    Isn’t that what the constitution does as well… protect us from ourselves… and why court cases and finding out if laws pass muster… isn’t that needed to protect ourselves from straying too far?

    Otherwise, why have courts to question when others infringe on… even their own rights.


  8. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:55 am:

    Not to worry even if his back pay is denied; Noland is now a Kane County Judge his legislative pension is reciprocal with the Judges retirement system. He will be fine.


  9. - Chris Widger - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:57 am:

    It’s too easy to argue against lawmaker salaries; it’s a juvenile argument to say that they deserve less or nothing, and that type of populism is to be distrusted. The AG is being too cute here.


  10. - Nagidam - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    @yeah

    Your post speaks to what people “feel” about the issue and the legislators. It does not speak to the law. It does not matter if the legislators voted to reduce their pay if that vote violated the constitution. There are specific parameters that must be followed to change the Illinois Constitution. These parameters were not followed.


  11. - Norseman - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    Nice try Kwame at playing the politics, but the law is the law. However, the hypocrisy of all the legislators and former legislators (including the current AG) is duly noted. They knew the action they repeatedly took was unconstitutional, but wanted to political pandering points.


  12. - Norseman - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:01 am:

    … make “political pandering points.


  13. - Nagidam - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:02 am:

    Does AG Raoul have a conflict here? If the courts expanded the scope to include all legislators and not just these two, former State Sen. Raoul would be affected. I get he is against this lawsuit but…


  14. - A Jack - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:55 am:

    I would agree that the AG is on shaky Constitutional grounds here.

    I would certainly pursue the lack of appropriation aspect.

    I would also ask the judge to consider if the lawmakers didn’t receive an equal benefit of “Goodwill” by voting down the pay raise as the benefit they would have received with the pay raise. Goodwill is acceptable as an asset in the business world, so perhaps it can be used here.


  15. - yeah - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    ==@yeah

    Your post speaks to what people “feel” about the issue and the legislators. It does not speak to the law. It does not matter if the legislators voted to reduce their pay if that vote violated the constitution. There are specific parameters that must be followed to change the Illinois Constitution. These parameters were not followed. ==

    Yes, there are rights. But people can, and do, waive their rights all the time.

    If a cop pulls me over and I give him permission to search my car and he finds drugs, I can’t go to court and say the search was illegal. I told him he could search.

    Legislators have a right under the Illinois constitution to not have their pay changed in the middle of their term. Noland and Clayborne waived that right when they voted for the furlough days and COLA freeze.


  16. - Nagidam - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    ===If a cop pulls me over and I give him permission to search my car and he finds drugs, I can’t go to court and say the search was illegal. I told him he could search.

    Legislators have a right under the Illinois constitution to not have their pay changed in the middle of their term. Noland and Clayborne waived that right when they voted for the furlough days and COLA freeze.===

    The key here is a person has the right to waive their rights. A legislator does not have the right to violate the constitution with their vote. I understand your thought process here…I do.


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