Illinois Independent Map Amendment Ruled Unconstitutional

We here are Inman & Fitzgibbons find it important to keep up to date on legislative matters that are not necessarily related to our areas of practice, but are still important nonetheless. The Illinois Independent Map Amendment is one such case.

The Independent Map Amendment is a citizen led effort to establish a non-partisan, independent commission responsible for drawing state legislative districts. Right now, legislative districts are drawn by state legislators. The re-drawing of districts occurs every 10 years after the Census is completed to ensure that elected officials represent roughly the same number of citizens. As part of the Amendment, the Auditor General was tasked as the reviewer of applications for the commission selection process to the proposed independent board. This detail would play a crucial role in the amendment’s fate.

In an effort to get the Amendment on the November ballot, the Independent Map Coalition collected over 563,000 signatures. The Independent Map Coalition submitted its proposal to the Secretary of State. Within five days, a lawsuit was filed to deny access to the November ballot. The lower court ruled that the Amendment was unconstitutional. Subsequently, the lawsuit was expedited through the Illinois court system until the Illinois Supreme Court, which issued its opinion on August 25, 2016.

In a split decision along partisan lines 4-3, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. The Court found that the Amendment was unconstitutional and relied on Article XIV, section 3 of the Illinois Constitution, which limits any citizen-led ballot initiative to “structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.” The Court wrote that the Auditor General is not mentioned anywhere in Article IV of the Illinois Constitution and therefore the amendment was not limited to those structural and procedural subjects contained in this article.

The Independent Map Coalition filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, but the Court is quickly refused to do so.With this decision, it appears that the Independent Map Amendment is dead for 2016. At this stage, the issues lies with the process of an Independent Map Amendment but not with the Independent Map Amendment itself.

We will continue to update this important citizen-led initiative as developments warrant. This definitely will not be the last we hear of this effort.

 

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