Illinois Redistricting Proposal Battled in Court

     CHICAGO (CN) — An Illinois group wants to stop a proposed constitutional amendment that would change the state’s redistricting process, and asked a court’s permission to file a lawsuit challenging it.
     Members of the group People’s Map want to file a complaint to stop the Illinois and Chicago Board of Elections and other government officials from spending any public funds to put the amendment on the November election ballot. They filed a petition Wednesday asking the Cook County Circuit Court’s permission to file such a lawsuit.
     The Independent Map Amendment (IMA) campaign submitted over 570,000 signatures in May to put its amendment — which would change the way Illinois legislative districts are mapped out with the federal census every 10 years — up for a vote.
     According to IMA’s website, its proposition “would establish a non-partisan, independent commission responsible for drawing state legislative districts in a way that is transparent and open to the public.” The group says it would also “end the current redistricting process controlled by legislators with little public involvement.”
     With involvement from members of the Illinois House and Senate, an applicant review panel would select 11 interested citizens to serve on an independent redistricting commission. The goal, says IMA, is to make the commission as diverse and fair as possible.
     The opposition to the amendment is headed by John Hooker, chairman of People’s Map and a former vice president of ComEd. He has since been named by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
     Other plaintiffs include Frank Clark, former CEO of ComEd and Emanuel-appointed president of the Chicago School Board, and Elzie Higginbottom, a prominent Chicago businessman and Democratic Party insider.
     People’s Map says in its May 11 petition that the restricting amendment “would remove the authority of the democratically elected General Assembly and the governor to enact redistricting legislation…and replace it with a system involving the Auditor General, two members of the Supreme Court, and two new unelected government bodies.”
     According to the filing, imposing new duties on the Auditor General and the Supreme Court violates the Illinois Constitution.
     The group has asked for leave to file a lawsuit barring the state from spending any public funds to put the amendment on the ballot. Money would have to be spent reviewing the petitions, mailing notices to every household in Illinois, and placing the proposal on ballots, People’s Map claims.
     Wednesday’s petition says “such disbursements of large sums of money will be illegal and in violation of the Constitution,” and that the court should grant leave to file a lawsuit “because of the important issues raised in the complaint and the waste of public funds that would ensue.”
     IMA Chair and former CEO of the Tribune Company Dennis FitzSimons said in a statement that the People’s Map’s effort “is Illinois politicians struggling to retain the power to manipulate elections versus citizens demanding reform.”
     “Political insiders want to deny voters the chance to reform Illinois government. Independent polls show close to two-thirds of Illinois voters are ready to vote ‘yes’ on an independent, transparent and impartial process for drawing state legislative maps,” FitzSimons said. “Springfield insiders aren’t willing to risk those odds and would rather cynically preempt at the courthouse what they cannot win at the ballot box.”
     People’s Map says in its petition that it wants to “guard against the redistricting initiative’s attempt to bypass the constitutional process for amending the redistricting process.”
     Michael J. Kasper, one of the attorneys for People’s Map, declined to comment on the case. The group is also represented by Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP and Richard J. Prendergast Ltd.

%d bloggers like this: