New Independent Maps brief to Supreme Court adds new citations from constitutional convention to bolster legal argument
SPRINGFIELD, IL. – The recorded debates from the state’s 1970 Constitutional Convention and previous Illinois Supreme Court rulings could not be clearer – the Illinois Supreme Court should reverse a recent Cook County Circuit Court ruling and order the Independent Map Amendment be put before voters in the upcoming November election, according to the coalition’s opening brief filed Friday with the Court.
“The language of the Illinois Constitution and legislative history of the convention debates are indisputable,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Chair of Independent Maps. “Redistricting reform is clearly a topic that can be addressed by a citizen initiated amendment, and the Independent Map Amendment is exactly what the men and women who wrote the constitution had in mind when they granted Illinoisans this power.”
The 50-page brief is available on the Independent Maps website (www.MapAmendment.org).
The brief argues that the Cook County Circuit Court ruling is an erroneous interpretation of the Illinois Constitution and is contrary to both the plain language of the constitution and the legislative debates of the constitutional convention. “Indeed, if allowed to stand, the circuit court’s ruling would effectively nullify the constitutional right of Illinois citizens to amend the legislative article through the initiative process, making it virtually impossible to craft a redistricting proposal that offers any meaningful change,” the brief states.
Quoting extensively from the debates by the members of the convention, the brief demonstrates that the framers of the constitution identified redistricting as one of the “critical” areas that voters could address in a citizen-initiated amendment. While citizen-initiated amendments are limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in the legislative article, the constitution’s “limited to” language was designed to prevent initiatives on substantive issues like taxes, abortion or the death penalty, but the language was not intended to stifle creativity of initiatives related to the legislature.
“The circuit court reached the wrong conclusion because it refused to interpret the Redistricting Initiative in a common sense manner, recognizing that each and every aspect of it is directly related to (and only to) redistricting,” the brief states.
“Under these circumstances, denying Illinois voters the right to vote on the Redistricting Initiative would deprive all of the citizens of Illinois of an important constitutional right reserved to the people by the 1970 constitution,” according to the brief, which points out that the circuit court ruling incorrectly rejected a “straight-forward, common sense interpretation” of the constitution, isolated various aspects of the amendment and re-characterized them as pertaining to something other than redistricting. “All of the provisions of the Redistricting Initiative are limited to the subject of redistricting: each and every one of them seeks to improve the redistricting process, by establishing better and more objective standards and by adopting new procedures to minimize self-interest and partisanship.”
“The more than 560,000 Illinoisans who signed our petitions to put this important reform on the ballot are counting on the Supreme Court to rule that this amendment be placed before voters in November,” FitzSimons said. “And the many, many more Illinoisans frustrated by the lack of competition in legislative elections and the performance of the state legislature deserve an opportunity to repair the broken system that legislators refuse to reform.”
To read the full text of the brief, click here.
For key points taken from the brief, click here.
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