SPRINGFIELD – Attorneys for Independent Maps submitted a
brief to the Illinois Supreme Court arguing that a lower court’s ruling against
the constitutionality of a proposed redistricting reform amendment is contrary
to both the drafters' intent for the 1970 Illinois Constitution and the
language of the constitution’s provision allowing voters to propose amendments.
Independent Maps spokesman Jim Bray said the Independent Map
Amendment would establish an 11-member, non-partisan, independent commission responsible
for drawing state legislative districts in a way that is transparent and open
to the public.
“The commission-drawn maps would be required to protect the
voting rights of racial and ethnic minorities, and the maps would be drawn
without regard to incumbency or partisanship,” Bray told the Record.
Adoption of the maps would require approval of seven
commissioners, including at least two Democrats and two Republicans.
“Legislators currently can draw district boundaries to help their own
chances of winning the next election, making redistricting a prime example of
legislative self-interest where citizens need to step in and propose reform,”
Independent Maps chairman Dennis FitzSimons said in a news
Opponents to the amendment argued in court that it must be
“limited to” structural and procedural subjects.
Independent Maps said in its
briefs that the amendment meets that test, as redistricting is a structural and
procedural subject of the constitution’s legislative article.
“The transcripts of debates of the delegates to the
1969-1970 Constitutional Convention made clear that a change in redistricting
is one issue that would be fair game for a citizen-initiated amendment,” Bray
said. “The delegates wanted voters to be able to suggest and adopt amendments
that state legislators with vested interests in the status quo would be
unlikely to advance.
Independent Maps said more than 563,000 Illinois voters
signed petitions to put the Independent Map amendment on the November ballot,
and a diverse coalition of two dozen businesses, consumer and public interest
organizations has urged the Supreme Court “to allow democracy to prevail and to
let the people have their vote” on the Independent Map Amendment.
“After the Illinois State Board of Elections found we had
far more than the minimum number of signatures to qualify for the ballot, a
Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled the amendment language does not match
what the state constitution permits for citizen amendments,” Bray said. “We believe
that ruling was based on an erroneous interpretation of the Illinois
Bray said partisan redistricting has decreased the number of
legislative districts where voters have choices between two candidates. He said
about 50 percent of the legislative races in this year’s election have only one
“The Illinois legislative system is broken and not
responsive to voters,” Bray said. “Legislators are elected on a ‘free pass,’
and don’t have to listen to the concerns of voters. The Independent Map
Amendment will not fix all that is broken in Illinois government, but it will
make Illinois elections reflect the will of the people, not the politicians.”
Katie Stuart, who is challenging State Rep. Dwight Kay for
his District 112 seat in the November election and is a math instructor at
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, said the redistricting process should
be placed in the hands of the people, rather than those of the politicians.
“I will continue to advocate for changes to our archaic and
secretive redistricting process,” Stuart told the Record.
Stuart said she finds the court’s ruling against
the amendment "disheartening.”
“This process should be open and transparent so as to
attract a diverse pool of qualified candidates,” Stuart said. “It should not go
on behind closed doors where it prevents new people from running for office or
where the process is turned into an exercise in securing reelection for career
In addition, Stuart said redistricting reform should protect
the ability of minority communities to elect the candidate of their choice.