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Justice Jesse Reyes announces second bid for state’s top court

Friday, Jun 2, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Yesterday…

Today, Appellate Court Justice Jesse Reyes officially announced his candidacy to become a member of the Illinois Supreme Court. He was joined by community leaders, members of the judiciary, and friends and family. State Senator Omar Aquino introduced Justice Reyes. The program can be viewed here.

Transcript from Justice Jesse Reyes’ Announcement:

“Four years ago, I stood in this location and announced my candidacy for the Illinois Supreme Court. In a field of seven honorable candidates, in spite of the challenges of the COVID pandemic and having to contend with the disadvantage of not receiving the endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Party, our team came in a close second. Since that time, I have continued to serve the public on and off the bench.

So, you may ask, Why am I here today? It’s simple. The Illinois Supreme Court should be reflective of the community at large it serves. While the court has made some strides in advancing the cause of diversity and inclusion, including gains in representing women and African Americans on the bench. The fact remains that, unfortunately, the largest minority group in Illinois and Cook County – the Latino Community - continues to be excluded from our state’s highest court. Latinos are a critical part of our state. Yet our lived experiences as Latinos are missing from the court. Our numbers and contributions to our state necessitate that we be part of the state’s highest court. It should be further noted that in the past five years, there were three opportunities to rectify this significant omission from the bench. Think about it, three times in just five years, there has been an opportunity to appoint a Latino to the Illinois Supreme Court. Three times the Latino community has been ignored.

Diversity on the bench is something that I have always advocated for throughout my career as a lawyer and a judge. My passion for inclusion in the legal profession is what has motivated me to continually promote diversity even when it was not a popular concept in our society. Recognizing we are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, I have always advocated and supported the efforts of other communities in promoting diversity and inclusion and not only when it was personally convenient or politically beneficial. I do so because it is the right thing to do, and I will continue to do so today, tomorrow, and forever.

So Today, I formally announce my candidacy for the Illinois Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anne Burke.

I am running because representation matters.

I am running because, in the words of Marian Wright Edelman, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

I am running so that generations of young people will have a point on the compass to guide them.

I am running because, as a product of a blue-collar immigrant family, I have never forgotten where I came from and never will.

I am running because I believe in diversity and inclusion for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Let’s be clear, because of equality and equity, it is time to add a Latino to the Illinois Supreme Court.

# # #

About Justice Jesse Reyes

Raised in Chicago’s Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods, he is the oldest of four children and the first in his family to attend high school and college. In 1997, Reyes was elected Associate Judge by his peers on the Circuit Court. In 2006, Reyes became the first Latino to lead the Illinois Judges Association. Reyes was elected to the First District Appellate Court in November of 2012, becoming the first Latino elected to the Illinois Appellate Court.

Reyes is the founding member and current president of the Diversity Scholarship Foundation. He is also a founding member and the former president of the Illinois Judges Foundation. He has served as president and member of many other Bar Associations throughout the years. In addition, The North Suburban Bar Association recently created the Justice Jesse G. Reyes Student Scholarship. Jesse and his wife, Terry, live on Chicago’s Southwest Side. Their daughter, Renee, is currently a high school teacher.

Reyes finished second behind P. Scott Neville, Jr. in the 2020 Supreme Court primary. He’ll face appointed incumbent Justice Joy Cunningham, who replaced retired Justice Anne Burke last year.


  1. - regular democrat - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 9:51 am:

    Seems very well qualified and he raises some good points. The thing that probably matters the most is WWTD. What will Toni do? Without the support of the Cook Dem Party its uphill for sure

  2. - Just Another Anon - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 10:45 am:

    Cunningham was always just a seat warmer. Reyes is a good self-promoter but a mediocre judge in most other regards. Not the greatest legal mind, but as long as you are ok with his work being secondary to his ambition, he’s not a bad choice. He’ll keep his head down and do what he’s told. Would prefer someone with intellect and thoughtfulness like Matt Delort or Nate Howse or even Sanjay Tailor. That said, we could do worse. With someone like Shelly Harris you get all of Reyes’ undesirable traits with none of his useful ones. Its going to come down to how many AA judges and Irish female judges jump into the race. From Reyes’ perspective, the more the merrier.

  3. - Mike K - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 10:52 am:

    –Cunningham was always just a seat warmer–

    I expect Justice Cunningham will be keeping the seat warm for at least another 11 1/2 years.

  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 10:54 am:

    ===I expect Justice Cunningham will be===

    She checks a lot of boxes: Female, Irish-sounding name, Black, incumbent. As someone else said, if the county party goes with her, that could be the ballgame. We’ll see.

  5. - DEE - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 11:10 am:

    I had many interactions with Jesse Reyes when he was an Asst. Corp Counsel for Chicago. I always believed he was a very tenacious, hard working but honorable lawyer whose word you could trust. I told him I thought he would make a great mayor but he was more inclined to the law. Personally I believe he would make a great Illinois Supreme Court Justice whose background, beliefs and personality would lead to reasoned, thoughtful and unbiased opinions for all the people of this state.

  6. - Not So Innocent Bystander - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 11:33 am:

    Jesse Reyes has been an excellent appellate judge. He is not always fully prepared for every argument, but he enters each case with an open mind and is willing to fairly consider both parties’ arguments. He was the most qualified candidate in the last election. I’m glad he’s running again.

  7. - Not So Innocent Bystander - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:14 pm:

    Just noticed my bad typing.

    It should say he is NOT only always fully prepared for every argument, . . .

  8. - Anonish - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 2:38 pm:

    I’ve known Justice Reyes for a long time. I like him personally.

    Almost as soon as he became a circuit judge he began running for appellate court and as soon as he got there it was clear he was going to run for state Supreme Court. I’m not wild about folks who spend more time working for the next office than doing the one they just got elected into.

    I just can’t see myself voting for him at this point.

  9. - Anan - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 2:59 pm:

    @anonish is exactly right. He’s been running for judge now for like twenty years.

    He was an unprepared and unthoughtful judge in the trial court, and he’s now in the place where he can do the least harm. While he’s not wrong that we should have a Latino or Latina on our Court, he is not the strongest pick by a mile. @JustAnotherAnon is exactly right except for the point about Cunningham - Delort or Taylor would also be excellent, but I don’t expect we’ll see either of them run, maybe ever. Cunningham should win her seat back, and that’s probably the right result here. The Court needs to fill the next vacancy with a Latino or Latina.

  10. - JP Altgeld - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 3:19 pm:

    If coiffure is the sole criteria, this man is Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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