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Illinois Supreme Court remap roundup

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1997

Gov. Jim Edgar on Friday signed into law the final hurrah of last year’s Republican-run General Assembly, approving a redrawing of the Illinois Supreme Court’s election boundaries aimed at giving the GOP control of the state’s highest court. […]

By having Cook County’s three seats on the high court elected from subdistricts, instead of countywide, beginning in the year 2000, Republicans hope to win a majority on the 7-member court for the first time since 1970. […]

House GOP leader Lee Daniels (R-Elmhurst) rebutted arguments that the map represented a Republican power grab.

“It’s a solid bill. It meets the constitutional requirement, and it’s about time the Supreme Court was redistricted. The Democrats refused to deal with the issue because they had control of the court,” he said.

The law was ruled unconstitutional.

* Tribune yesterday

Illinois Democrats, already drawing legislative and congressional maps to solidify their majorities in those bodies, on Tuesday offered a new map of state Supreme Court districts in an effort to ensure the party maintains control of the state’s highest court.

Illinois Supreme Court districts haven’t been redrawn since 1964. But changing demographics and shifting regional politics, as well as the ouster of a Democratic justice by voters last year, has Democrats fearing that their advantage on the court could evaporate in next year’s election. […]

“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 state Sen. Omar Aquino, the Chicago Democrat who chairs the state Senate Redistricting Committee. […]

One major function of the court is to act as a check and balance in determining the constitutionality of legislation approved by lawmakers and signed into law. With Democrats holding control of the legislature and, through Pritzker, the governor’s office, the partisan influence can often play into the court’s decisions.


House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, was bracing for the new judicial maps when he accused Democrats Monday of preparing to stack the court. Kilbride’s loss sent a “shockwave” to the majority party’s major supporters such as trial attorneys and labor unions, Durkin said. “Quite frankly, if they don’t change that district, Republicans win and the balance of power will go to Republicans,” Durkin said. “That’s why there is going to be…some type of map that is going to redraw that third Supreme Court district to make it more appealing to Democrat voters.”

And that, effectively, is what Democrats did with their new map.

While partisan make-ups of the new judicial districts weren’t immediately available, Kilbride’s old district was recalibrated to include all of DuPage County, the state’s second most vote-rich county and one that has trended heavily Democratic in recent election cycles.

* I had two different analyses on the partisan makeup of the new districts for subscribers this morning, but here’s one that was made public yesterday by the Illinois Civil Justice League

(T)he 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.

The ICJL analysis was pretty good, but it was posted late yesterday afternoon so you may have missed it

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).

* Related…

* Dems draw new maps for ‘equal representation’ on state’s top court — but draw GOP’s ire for ‘political gamesmanship’

* Illinois Democrats propose new Supreme Court maps


  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 2:23 pm:

    That Kilbride “win” is looking less and less by the minute.

    This is the electoral equivalency of legally moving the goal posts and taking a touchdown off the board.

    Welp, if it were me?

    After spending all that dough to be embarrassed by a remap the next few steps after… I mean… how short sided were ya when you were gleefully writing checks?

  2. - Hahaha - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 2:34 pm:

    OW - In a terrible year for Republicans in 2018, Harold won by a couple points or tied in the two new districts Republicans need to win to take control of the Supreme Court. You don’t think Griffin will follow through on the mission here and get that done? I’m still not sure why you think the Kilbride defeat wasn’t worth it for Republicans. It was always a two step process and and was always going to be a knife fight in 2022. This changed nothing.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 2:39 pm:

    === In a terrible year for Republicans in 2018, Harold won by a couple points or tied in the two new districts Republicans need to win to take control of the Supreme Court.===

    Gosh I hope so.

    Nothing better than someone who throws $50 bills in a fireplace then decides $100 bills will make it better, “HaHaHa”

    I love it. The grifters who embarrassed Griffin with Kilbride, I hope they soak Griffin for $10 million a seat…

    === I’m still not sure why you think the Kilbride defeat wasn’t worth it for Republicans.===

    Being gullible to what this map is going to undo might make that sentence work.

    In the end, it’s so delicious how this has backfired.

    === It was always a two step process and and was always going to be a knife fight in 2022. This changed nothing.===

    Narrator: the map changed


  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    - Hahaha -

    Also… Kilbride was replaced with a Dem in the interim.


  5. - Smack attack - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 2:50 pm:

    The CJL analysis was good? Come on. Farman isn’t gonna have to move to seek retention. These are scare tactics.

  6. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 3:11 pm:

    ==The map drawers paid particular attention to the historic nature of the Mt. Vernon, Springfield, and Ottawa appellate court locations, ==

    The Mt. Vernon and Ottawa appeallate court locations could stay as is, but I still would recommend moving the new 4th District’s appellate courthouse to a more central location within that district, like Galesburg rather than Springfield.

  7. - Derek - Wednesday, May 26, 21 @ 4:08 pm:

    Stephen Wolf from Daily Kos has the presidential numbers.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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