Redistricting referendum struck down by Illinois Supreme Court

Independent Maps group has petitioned the court to reconsider its decision

Jeff Burnett, Staff Writer

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The Illinois Supreme Court voted along partisan lines last Thursday, ruling 4-3 that the redistricting referendum proposed by Independent Maps is unconstitutional and will not be on the November ballot.

“The Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling is extremely disappointing to all of us,” Dennis FitzSimons, chairman of Independent Maps, said in a statement.

The decision came one day before The Illinois Board of Elections decides what goes on the November ballot.

“Today’s court decision to deny Illinoisans the right to vote on a redistricting referendum does nothing to stem the outflow,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement. “Or change people’s views of how the system is rigged and corrupt.”

The proposed amendment would have allowed a committee of Illinois registered voters to redraw the district lines for both the congressional and state elections. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the measure did not fit within the limits of “structural and procedural” stated in the Illinois constitution.

“The court has been very, very narrow,” said UIS Professor Emeritus of Political Science Dr. Kent Redfield.

The state’s Auditor General would have appointed a three-member panel to randomly choose seven registered voters for an 11 member committee.

“Our role is solely to determine whether the proposal comports with the strict limitations,” was Justice Thomas Kilbride’s opinion.

The other four of the 11 member committee would be been chosen by the Illinois General Assembly.

“Nothing in the 1970 Constitution requires that all of a constitutional officer’s responsibilities be set out in a single article,” Justice Karmeier’s dissent said.

Independent Maps submitted 563,000 registered Illinois voter signatures to get the amendment placed on the upcoming ballot in an attempt to give voters more of a say in how the district lines are drawn.

“It is vital to understand that Illinois has discriminating maps that discourage political competition,” said Dominic Chiappano, president of College Republicans at UIS. “We can call over 60 percent of races in the Illinois House of Representatives.”

People’s Map challenged the proposal led by John Hooker, chairman of the group, opining that the amendment could have minimized the number of minority voices in voting districts, thus impeding their influence in elections and weakening their rights.

“If this effort was upheld, minority voters across the state would have had their voices and rights weakened,” Hooker said in a statement.

The Independent Map’s legal team filed a petition on Wednesday with the Illinois Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.

A similar redistricting measure known as “Yes for Independent Maps” tried to get the amendment on the 2014 midterm ballot. Judge Mary Mikva of the Cook County Circuit Court ruled that it was unconstitutional.

“It was not clear in the 2014 decision that the Auditor General was the deal breaker,” Redfield said. “The goal is to get the legislature out of the process.”

Yes for Independent Maps decided not to appeal the ruling to a higher court and ended its pursuit to get on the 2014 ballot.

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