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Supreme Court remap plan unveiled

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

* Click here for background if you need it. Press release…

The Senate and House Redistricting Committees today released a proposed map of new Illinois Supreme Court boundaries to bring them into compliance with the Illinois Constitution by reflecting population shifts over the nearly 60 years since the map was last drawn in 1963.

“This map is about equal representation in the state’s most important court,” said Rep. Lisa Hernandez, Chair of the House Redistricting Committee. “As we strive for all to be equal before the law, we must ensure we all have an equal voice in choosing those who uphold it.”

Under this proposal, the number of residents in the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Supreme Court districts will be substantially equalized to better reflect the population and demographic shifts that have occurred in the state of Illinois over the course of the last sixty years. Currently, population fluctuates greatly between districts. For instance, the Second District contains 3.2 million people, while the Fourth and Fifth Districts contain under 1.3 million people.

“The boundaries for Illinois Supreme Court districts have not been updated for several decades, it’s time we make changes in recognition of the population changes and demographic shifts that have taken place since the 1960s,” said Sen. Omar Aquino, Chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. “Illinois is a very different state than it was sixty years ago, and the voters of Illinois deserve to elect members to our state’s highest court that reflect their values.”

This new map will not impact the tenure of the current Appellate and Supreme Court justices. All justices running for retention will have the right to do so in their current districts. Further, this map avoids disruption to the Judicial Branch by ensuring that the Appellate Courts can remain where they currently reside and avoid changing the compositions or boundaries of the Judicial Circuits.

Consistent with the proposed legislative maps, this proposed map was drafted using population information from the American Community Survey’s (ACS) 5-year estimate for 2019. The ACS estimate varies by just 0.3 percent from the state’s official population count released by the U.S. Census Bureau in April.

The public has the opportunity to provide input on this proposed map at four scheduled redistricting committee hearings between the House and the Senate this week. To view the proposed map, visit www.ilsenateredistricting.com or www.ilhousedems.com/redistricting.

* Click here to see the Google Map version…

Current map…

…Adding… Either they have a typo, or this was written last Friday and not sent…

Tonight, following the legislature’s release of a new map for the Illinois Supreme Court, the first time this has happened in 50 years, Chairman of Citizens for Judicial Fairness Jim Nowlan released the following statement:

“Forget Congress. Forget the legislature. The one issue that sends shivers up the spines of Cook County Democrats is loss of their unbroken, six-decade long control of the partisan Illinois Supreme Court. Not even Mike Madigan can claim that record.

And now that their control is threatened, Democrats in Springfield displayed a breathtakingly cynical effort to retain that control, when they unveiled a new gerrymandering of Illinois Supreme Court districts days before the end of the legislative session with no public hearings or input to date.

If this thus-far secret map, long rumored in the back alleys of Springfield Democratic circles, goes through this coming week, indeed this year, it will strongly suggest the new Democratic regime in the state capitol may be even worse than the old one.”

…Adding… ILGOP…

Moments ago and just a couple hours before sham redistricting hearings are set to begin in Springfield, Democrats have released their new district map for the Illinois Supreme Court. Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Joe Hackler released the following statement in response:

“Today’s announcement of the redrawing of the Illinois Supreme Court map is the latest example of the extraordinary lengths the corrupt political class will go to keep control of power. For the first time in the state’s history, a Supreme Court justice was removed from the Court because of his ties to the Democrat machine. Now, in an effort to maintain their stranglehold on the Supreme Court and thwart much needed reform, that same corrupt political class is rigging the maps to stay in power, redrawing the map for the first time in fifty years. This is a brazen abuse of our judicial system and nothing more than political gamesmanship with what should be an independent court, free of corrupt influence.”

* Greg Hinz

The most significant changes are in the two districts coving the Chicago metropolitan area outside of Cook County.

One of the new districts covers the northern and western suburbs and a bit of rural territory, running north to the Wisconsin state line and west past DeKalb. Excluded is GOP territory further west that is in the current district.

The other, largely remade district covers the southern suburbs and the Joliet area, but extends to largely rural and lightly populated areas south of Kankakee and west to central Illinois. Democrats presumably think that can win that area, too.

…Adding… Press release…

Statement from John Pastuovic, President of the Illinois Civil Justice League, on Judicial Remap Proposal

“It is clear to me that the Democrats have initiated this first in 50-year judicial remap in reaction to their third district retention loss in 2020 and concern that they could lose that seat to the Republicans in 2022. For example, when looking a party identification voting data, the current third district gives Republicans about a 55 to 45 percent advantage while the new map gives the Republicans a slight 51 to 49 percent advantage.

Additionally, the new second district is a 50-50 toss-up using the same voting data. Since the Democrats only have to win one of those seats to maintain their majority on the court, Las Vegas would probably like their odds.

Calling for a new Supreme Court maps because of a population disparity is a convenient narrative. It is also disingenuous.”

Additional Observations:

The population changes in the new map bring the judicial districts within the threshold of substantially equal, with a total average deviation from the mean of 4.425 percent.

The map drawers paid particular attention to the historic nature of the Mt. Vernon, Springfield, and Ottawa appellate court locations, as well as keeping the original circuit breakdowns from the 1897 reapportionment whole, with just the divisions in circuits over the 125-history of the circuit map.

Newly appointed Second District Justice Michael Burke will likely run in the Third District in 2022, his home is in DuPage County and makes up roughly 48 percent of the new Third District. Will County is now 35 percent of the Third District, whereas before it represented almost 39 percent.

The tough job politically is managing the retentions in 2022, where longtime Third District Justices Tom Lytton (D-Rock Island) and Daniel Schmidt (R-Peoria) are up and live a long way from their district.
In the Fourth District, Justice Rita Garman’s home is now in the new Fifth District and she will need to move west to qualify for her 2022 retention. Fourth District Appellate Justice John Turner lives in his revised district and is eligible for a third term on the retention ballot.

There is now an open Supreme Court seat in the new Second District, which was 50-50 in the Attorney General’s race in 2018, and now gives Democrats an opportunity to elect a Democrat from the north and west suburbs. Remapped out of the Second District are Appellate Justices Joe Birkett, who is up for retention, and newly appointed Justice Liam Brennan, who are both from DuPage.

Additionally, several assigned circuit judges, who sit on the appellate courts by assignment, find themselves from circuits outside of the districts, including Winnebago County judge Kathryn Zenoff (Second) and Vermilion County judge Craig DeArmond (Fourth).

- Posted by Rich Miller        

42 Comments
  1. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 1:40 pm:

    Wow. In a really Democratic year(s), they could win 5 seats. #2 and possibly #3 should be areas Terry Cosgrove and Personal PAC could have a lot of influence in.


  2. - Norseman - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 1:41 pm:

    The flaming rhetoric will begin in 3 … 2 … 1 …


  3. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 1:43 pm:

    Looks pretty close to a 5-2 map. I might’ve taken 3 down to Chambana rather than over to Dixon-ish, but looks ok to me


  4. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 1:43 pm:

    Although I imagine the shapes will startle people, this seems more of a reflection of population trends than the previous map. Most of the population is surrounding Chicagoland, so it would make sense to have three districts around it. Our “downstate” and rural population has been on a continuous decline for years.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 1:44 pm:

    “But, but… we won ousting Kilbride… we won… and everything”

    The Dems thank those who pointed out the map needed “recalibrating” by spending all kinds of money only to seemingly lose more ground… “because I’m angry”

    Makes all that pain last November seem silly now… makes all that cheering last November look really ridiculous now.


  6. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 1:47 pm:

    ‘Bout damn time.

    – MrJM


  7. - Benjamin - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 1:52 pm:

    @NIU Grad: if I remmeber correctly, just under 2/3 of Illinoisans live in Chicago, suburban Cook County, and the collar counties. If anything, this map is generous to downstate voters.


  8. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 1:58 pm:

    “If anything, this map is generous to downstate voters.”

    Agreed.


  9. - Anonanonsir - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:02 pm:

    ==Consistent with the proposed legislative maps, this proposed map was drafted using population information from the American Community Survey’s (ACS) 5-year estimate for 2019. The ACS estimate varies by just 0.3 percent from the state’s official population count released by the U.S. Census Bureau in April.==

    It’s quite likely that some areas are overestimated and others underestimated by larger percentage margins. We will know when the official census data are released.


  10. - bigredconservative - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:02 pm:

    “If anything, this map is generous to downstate voters.”

    Residents of Cook County get to vote for three Justices. I live in DuPage and I only get to vote for one. That is what is fundamentally unfair about this system. What happened to one man one vote?


  11. - Nick - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:07 pm:

    Doesn’t Cook have like 40 percent of the states population. Which translates to roughly ~3/7 justices?

    Of course really they should just do districts for each but alas.


  12. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:08 pm:

    Looks like this remap still continues to maintain the current 24 judicial circuits:

    http://illinoisjudges.law.northwestern.edu/map-circuits.html

    Hence why District 3 looks weird taking in Bureau County while neighboring Lee, Whiteside, Henry, Stark, Putnam and Marshall are all within the new District 4. Since Bureau, LaSalle, and Grundy are all within the 13th judicial circuit, which is contained within the proposed Supreme Court district 3.

    http://illinoisjudges.law.northwestern.edu/map-circuits.html


  13. - Numbers Guy - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:13 pm:

    Cook County has a population of 5.1 million. Illinois has a population of 12.7 million. This means that each downstate Supreme Court District has about 1.9 million people. Cook gets 1 judge for every 1.7 million people. Close enough for government work.


  14. - Constitutional Lawyer - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:13 pm:

    == Residents of Cook County get to vote for three Justices. I live in DuPage and I only get to vote for one. That is what is fundamentally unfair about this system. What happened to one man one vote? ==

    The US Supreme Court held that one man one vote doesn’t apply to judicial elections.


  15. - Keyrock - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:16 pm:

    As usual, what misterjayem said is correct.


  16. - Leap Day William - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:23 pm:

    == Looks pretty close to a 5-2 map. I might’ve taken 3 down to Chambana rather than over to Dixon-ish, but looks ok to me ==

    Champaign County is 200k+, I’m not quite sure how you draw a map that puts Chambana in district 3 and make up the balance elsewhere downstate. I want to say a really moderate Dem in the right election year could *maaaaaaybe* get the nod in District 5, but then again IL-13 (which this district wholly covers) was supposed to be a moderate competitive district too, and here we are with HotRod serving his fifth ter, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


  17. - Token - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:23 pm:

    Dem overconfidence will come back to bite then in these districts.


  18. - Norseman - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:33 pm:

    Interesting Constitutional Lawyer. Can you share the cite, I’d be curious to see the reasoning.


  19. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:35 pm:

    ===That is what is fundamentally unfair about this system===

    Did you vote for a constitutional convention?


  20. - Shield - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    - Norseman - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:33 pm:

    Wells v Edwards


  21. - From DaZoo - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:48 pm:

    @bigredconservative - It’s called balancing IL Constitution language with intent. Each justice is to represent an equal amount of population. But the district boundaries are to be drawn with county border restrictions. So keeping both county boundaries and population/justice representation intact results in Cook voting for 3 justices (as Nick points out). Would it be better if Cook was split into 3 separate districts? Sure, but it would likely involve legal challenges and a need for a Constitutional Amendment.

    To the post… I looked at different split options out of curiosity a few weeks back when this discussion came up. Given the relative increases in Lake, DuPage, and Will counties versus the relative decreases in southern third of IL, I was wondering what position the map makers would take. Would they try to spread the more populous counties out to more justices or lump them together? I agree with other commenters here that this draft version provides better representation for most rural counties of Illinois with Chicago metro and adjacent counties lumped together.


  22. - Anon221 - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:48 pm:

    To the cartographer… please include the county layer. It really isn’t that hard to do, for pete’s sake.


  23. - Norseman - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:49 pm:

    Thank you Shield.


  24. - Not So Innocent Bystander - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:57 pm:

    What will this mean for the Appellate Court judges? Many of the 2nd District judges were assigned by the Supreme Court rather than elected by voters and come from counties that will be in the new 3rd and 4th Districts.


  25. - Shield - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 3:05 pm:

    - Norseman - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 2:49 pm:

    A difference is that even though federal case law allows for some large deviation, the state constitution, on its face, does not.


  26. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 3:20 pm:

    As with previous posts on remapping.

    Dear Republicans,

    Please share your better, fairer, maps. When we see these works of art, you will have so much more support and respect.

    Sincerely,

    PCK


  27. - The Dude Abides - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 3:48 pm:

    The use of the word “sham” by the ILGOP reminds me of the good old days of the Rauner Administration.


  28. - Ducky LaMoore - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 3:59 pm:

    “Dem overconfidence will come back to bite then in these districts.”

    I doubt it. If the GOP wants to gather a real campaign strategy that doesn’t revolve around Trump or Madigan, that might bite the democrats. Remap will be long forgotten as long as they hurry up and get it done.


  29. - Rutger Hauer - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 4:08 pm:

    As far as Supreme Court remaps, this isn’t too bad for the super-minority GOP. Surprised that D’s made 2 and 3 50/50 districts - especially in non-presidential years. 4 & 5 are definitely GOP. The three seats in 1 are all D’s.


  30. - Ed Labbe - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 4:13 pm:

    Conservative complaints about partisan gerrymandering in Illinois should be ignored. Most liberals want political gerrymandering to be abolished, but it’s the conservatives on the Court who are fine with it. If you want to end political gerrymandering, vote Democrat. Until it’s abolished, it’s unreasonable to expect Democratic state legislatures not to engage in political gerrymandering. That would be like unilateral disarmament, which I think conservatives would agree is never a good idea.


  31. - Just Another Anon - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 4:31 pm:

    I didn’t see much issue with the maps as they existed. That said, perhaps the worst time to do them is with ACS data versus census data.

    I’m waiting to see when they will correct the subcircuit maps for Cook. Afterall, the subcircuits were created to ensure minority judicial candidates (at the time, anyone without an Irish surname) would be elected to the bench in Cook County. Now, we have white women being elected in subcircuits designed to elect african americans, and white men being elected out of latino subcircuits. Of course, all those candidates are democratic candidates who pay their slating fees to the county party, so I suspect that is a problem that is not going to be solved.


  32. - Keyrock - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 4:48 pm:

    The subcircuits were created for two reasons. One was to increase diversity on the bench. The other was so every committeeman could get his own brother- or sister-in-law elected judge.

    There were, and still are, other ways of increasing diversity (including merit selection). But the subcircuits still serve their intended function of spreading around the judicial goodies to more politicos.


  33. - d. p. gumby - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 4:50 pm:

    This is not extremely different from the maps that were kicked around 20 some years ago when the Cook Cty Circuit Court sub districts were created. There was no question that everything would have to move north b/c downstate population was shrinking.


  34. - anon - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 5:19 pm:

    This will get the attention of the SCOTUS. Wouldn’t surprise me to see this thrown out with some sort of new partisan gerrymeander theory. Maybe we get luck and ITLA’s overplay changes redistricting the same way the AFSCME case changed union membership.


  35. - Golden - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 5:50 pm:

    “This will get the attention of the SCOTUS. Wouldn’t surprise me to see this thrown out with some sort of new partisan gerrymeander theory“

    SCOTUS held partisan gerrymandering case present political questions federal courts can’t address. But, sure, they’ll take the Illinois judicial map case with districts drawn based on whole counties.


  36. - bigredconservative - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 5:53 pm:

    Yes, I did vote for the constitutional convention and advocated for it in my precinct letter. Unfortunately it didn’t receive enough votes.

    I’m fine if Cook is split into three districts. That is fair.


  37. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 5:54 pm:

    Will the locations of the Appellate Courts change?

    Galesburg would be an ideal spot for the new 4th appellate district’s courthouse. Ottawa could remain the basis for the 3rd, and Mount Vernon the 5th.


  38. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 5:55 pm:

    === I’m fine if Cook is split into three districts. That is fair.===

    … but not constitutional


  39. - Lurker - Tuesday, May 25, 21 @ 9:35 pm:

    I saw the GOP map and i think this one is unfair.
    Wait. What. No map from GOP?
    Never mind.

    But seriously, doesn’t this map give the GOP the west and the south and possibly a third during good/better years? Could they hope for better?


  40. - Downstater - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 8:51 am:

    “But seriously, doesn’t this map give the GOP the west and the south and possibly a third during good/better years? Could they hope for better?”

    Yes they could. The current 60-year-old map has a 4-3 (Dem-GOP) split with the GOP poised to take District 3 in the next election for a 4-3 GOP-Dem split. So yeah, I would say the Dems not changing the game for the first time in 6 decades is something better that they had hoped for.


  41. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 8:59 am:

    ===The current 60-year-old map has a 4-3 (Dem-GOP) split with the GOP poised to take District 3 in the next election for a 4-3 GOP-Dem split. So yeah, I would say the Dems not changing the game for the first time in 6 decades is something better that they had hoped for.===

    Narrator: the Republicans got outflanked… again.


  42. - The Ford Lawyer - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 9:49 am:

    I guess with Justice Garman’s term being up in ‘22 it doesn’t matter that Danville will now be in the 5th and not the 4th. Also, it looks to me like no need for new courthouse locations because Springfield will remain in the 4th, Ottawa in the 3rd, etc.


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