In a ruling handed down Thursday evening, the state’s high court differed with more than half a million Illinois voters who signed petitions supporting a ballot initiative to have an independent committee draw political maps.
The court’s majority opinion said even when concerned citizens attempt to exercise their constitutional right to change government through ballot initiatives, the court had to follow the state constitution’s framers. The majority said the amendment went beyond the scope allowed for citizen-led initiatives.
Dissenting Justice Robert Thomas said the ruling made the clause of the state constitution that allows for citizen led ballot initiatives “out of service.” He also wrote, “The Illinois constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not to enshrine it.”
Independent Map Amendment Coalition Chair Dennis FitzSimons said in a statement the ruling means “voters cannot propose sensible changes to the legislative article that would make a meaningful difference in the way legislative district boundaries are drawn. In short, the system is broken, and the way this Court interprets the Constitution seems likely to prevent its repair.”
In a statement, Gov. Bruce Rauner said that people leave the state when they cannot hold their politicians accountable.
The Independent Map Amendment coalition said its lawyers are weighing their options for a possible rehearing.
The Illinois State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet Friday morning, and it’s unclear how they’ll handle the proposed amendment being shot down.
Independent Map Amendment Coalition Spokesman Jim Bray said there is still time to make the November ballot. “Friday is the date that the State Board of Elections will certify the ballot, but the board of elections traditionally leaves time open and directs their staff to add or subtract things from the ballot if there’s a court order. And so there is still some time if the supreme court would change their mind.”
Bray said the court’s ruling does hold there is still a chance to have the legislature pass a measure to allow independent maps.
The elections board meets Friday at 10 am.