Articles Posted in Politics?

The Illinois constitutional convention referendum is at a legal and electoral crossroad this week. The integrity of the referendum process, which is mandated by the Illinois Constitution, is at stake. Voters need speedy decisions if their constitutional right to a referendum free from underhanded politics is to be respected. The Illinois government apparatus is opposing the voters. The government essentially says that it’s too late to fix a constitutional problem it caused in the first place. The entry directly below describes the dispute. Here’s what’s happening in the appellate courts now.

The government defendants have until Tuesday October 14 to respond to the motion to expedite a hearing and asking to stay distribution of the illegal ballots. That motion was filed last week by plaintiffs, but there still is no ruling by the appellate court. The First District Illinois Appellate Court will hear argument on the motion on October 15. There’s no guarantee the court will rule at that time.

The voter group of plaintiffs’ motion for a direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court still is pending in that court. The Illinois Lieutenant Governor and the Chicago Bar Association, the other plaintiffs in this case, have joined the motion. The defendants also have until October 14 to respond. We’ve heard no word yet about whether the government will fight or support the motion for a hearing in the supreme court.

Voters in Illinois will have a referendum at the November 2008 election on whether to hold a constitutional convention. The referendum, which comes up automatically every 20 years, is required by the Illinois Constitution.

Several days ago, the Illinois Secretary of State published a copy of the referendum ballot that will be presented to voters. Three groups realized there was inaccurate and inappropriate information on the ballot, making it unconstitutional. They sued in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois to have the unconstitutional language removed.

The plaintiffs in the case are: The Chicago Bar Association, Illinois Lt. Governor Patrick Quinn, and a group of Illinois voters. [Full disclosure here: I am one of the lawyers representing the voters in the appellate court proceedings.] The defendants are: Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White; the Illinois State Board of Elections; David Orr, as the Clerk of Cook County, Illinois; and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

At the November 2008 election, Illinois voters will get a once every 20 years chance to vote on whether they want to have a state constitutional convention. The question will be debated by pundit Bruno Behrend (proponent) and lawyer Al Salvi (opponent) on July 29,2008 at 6:00 p.m. Central Time. The debate will be broadcast live on WKRS 1220-AM. If you’re in the area, and you’d rather be there for it, the debate will be held at Austin’s Saloon & Eatery, 481 Peterson Rd., Libertyville, Illinois. The debate also will stream live at www.wkrs.com, and will be podcast later. Call-ins (847-336-1220) will be welcomed.

A most interesting appellate law blogger’s opinion piece that ran in the Chicago Daily Observer for why Illinois voters should vote in favor of a constitutional convention is available right here. And for historical perspective, listen to our podcast interview of Ann Lousin, a researcher at the 1968 constitutional convention, available here.

Oral arguments in the Illinois Supreme Court will be posted on the web. The court announced in a press release on 12/7/07 that video and audio recordings of arguments will be available beginning in January 2008.

Posting arguments made in the court will slice some stealth from a primary branch of Illinois government. Most people only vaguely understand what happens in the Supreme Court. They never see a Supreme Court argument, never hear an oral argument, and never see an opinion written by the Supreme Court. People never see how their Illinois Supreme Court Justices, who are elected officials, conduct court or themselves.

Making oral arguments available to the public will direct some sunshine on a fundamental branch of government that ordinarily conducts business behind closed doors.

In this Track 6, the final installment of my interview with Illinois Constitutional scholar Prof. Lousin, Ann wraps up her discussion of the Cutback Amendment. She also talks about the prospects for another Constitutional Convention in Illinois. (The question of whether to have a Con Con will be on the 2008 election ballot in Illinois.) And finally, Prof. Lousin tells us why, in an era of overwhelming federal control, state constitutions are important.

This track is 16 minutes 28 seconds. If you want to listen to the interview now, just click on the triangle on the left side of the bar right below. To download to your desktop, laptop, or iPod for later listening, click on the MP3 link directly below the bar.

The first five segments of this interview are available directly below.

In this fifth, and next to last, track of an exclusive interview, Professor Lousin discusses the contours of the Lock Step Doctrine, particularly how the Illinois Supreme Court has applied it to the right of privacy written into the 1970 Illinois Constitution. Professor Lousin also discusses the limited right Illinois citizens have to amend the Illinois Constitution by initiative and referendum, and the Cutback Amendment, the only amendment proposed by initiative that has passed a court challenge. The Cutback Amendment dramatically changed electoral politics in Illinois.

Track 5 is just over 12 minutes. If you want to listen to the interview now, just click on the triangle on the left side of the bar right below. To download to your desktop, laptop, or iPod for later listening, click on the MP3 link directly below the bar.

The first four segments of this interview are available directly below.

We continue our first podcast interview with Professor Lousin. This track contains Professor Lousin’s thoughts on the Illinois Constitution’s clauses on the Amendatory Veto, ratification of federal constitutional amendments, and the right to bear arms. There also is discussion of how the courts have interpreted Article I of the Illinois Constitution concerning discrimination and the Illinois Equal Rights Amendment.

Track 4 is a touch over 9 minutes. If you want to listen to the interview now, just click on the triangle on the left side of the bar right below. To download to your desktop, laptop, or iPod for later listening, click on the MP3 link directly below the bar.

The first three segments of this interview are available directly below.

On Track 3, Prof. Ann Lousin answers questions about the Illinois Constitution and the 1968 Illinois Constitutional Convention. This portion of the interview focuses on: the ideology of the 1970 Constitution; education in the Constitution; and questions concerning voting by convicted felons, gubernatorial pardons, and the amendatory veto.

Track 3 is 7 minutes 18 seconds. If you want to listen to the interview now, just click on the triangle on the left side of the bar right below. To download to your desktop, laptop, or iPod for later listening, click on the MP3 link directly below the bar.

The first two segments of this podcast are directly below, the entries dated July 19 and 21, 2007.

In this second of six segments of an exclusive interview, Professor Ann Lousin talks about the characters who were involved in the 1968 Illinois Constitutional Convention. Who were the delegates? Who were the movers and shakers? And what role did the independent Democrats from Chicago play?

This track is 7 minutes 55 seconds. If you want to listen to the interview now, just click on the triangle on the left side of the bar right below. To download to your desktop, laptop, or iPod for later listening, click on the MP3 link directly below the bar.

The first segment of this interview was posted on July 19, 2007, and is available directly below.

Professor Ann Lousin is among the finest people I have known. Lucky for us she also is among the true experts on the Illinois Constitution. Soon after her academic studies, she was a researcher at the 1968 Illinois Constitutional Convention. In this first audio podcast on illinoisappellatelawyerblog.com, Ann talks about the ’68 Convention and the surrounding politics, the Illinois Constitution and how it has been interpreted, and the prospects for another constitutional convention. (The question of whether to have a constitutional convention will be on the 2008 general election ballot in Illinois.)

This interview is broken into six segments. This Track 1 is 7 minutes 30 seconds, and focuses on the social and political climate in Illinois that gave rise to the ’68 Convention.

I am planning to broadcast a new segment of this interview every other day or so for the next 10 days.