St. Clair County Associate Judge Christopher Kolker will preside over a suit that state employee unions filed against Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Chief Judge John Baricevic assigned the suit to Kolker on April 10, after it had passed through the hands of two county judges and three federal judges.
The unions challenge an order Rauner signed in February, prohibiting them from deducting money from paychecks of workers who don’t belong to the unions.
According to Rauner, forcing employees to support the unions violates their rights of free speech and free association under the U.S. Constitution.
Rauner sued the unions first, seeking judicial approval of his action at U.S. district court in Chicago.
He created an escrow account to hold payments that the unions would normally collect, in case the unions prevailed in the dispute.
The unions then sued him in St. Clair County, claiming his order exceeded his authority under the Illinois Constitution.
Baricevic assigned the suit to circuit judge Stephen McGlynn, but the unions moved for a substitute judge.
Any party to a civil suit in Illinois can exercise a right of substitution once, if the judge has not made a substantive ruling.
After McGlynn granted substitution, Rauner removed the suit to U.S. district court in East St. Louis.
Rauner intended to move for transfer and consolidation with his suit in Chicago, but the unions moved to remand the suit to St. Clair County.
U.S. district judges Phil Gilbert and Nancy Rosenstengel recused themselves, and the assignment passed to District Judge Staci Yandle.
On the day she took the case, without waiting for Rauner to reply to the motion for remand, she granted the motion.
The suit returned to St. Clair County, and Baricevic assigned it to Circuit Judge Robert LeChien.
Rauner moved for a substitute, and Baricevic assigned the suit to Kolker.
On April 10, news outlets reported that Kolker approved an agreement between Rauner and the unions, shutting down the escrow account.
No such order appeared in the case docket as of April 14.
Kolker set a hearing Wednesday, April 22, for adoption of a scheduling order.
Meanwhile, at federal court in Chicago, the unions moved to dismiss Rauner’s suit.
District Judge Robert Gettleman set a hearing on their motions May 14, but Rauner moved without opposition to postpone it to May 20.