Articles Posted in Politics?

A referendum was held to determine whether the voters wanted liquor to be sold at retail in their precincts. The ballots were printed in English, Spanish, and Chinese. These consolidated lawsuits considered whether the translation of “sale at retail” to Chinese was substantial compliance with the statutory requirements of the Illinois Election Code.

The supreme court applied different standards of review to different parts of the question. “We again note that different standards of review apply to the factual and legal components of this issue. While the ultimate legal question of whether the use of the character xiao shou was in substantial compliance with the Act is reviewed de novo, the underlying factual matters will be reviewed under a manifest weight of the evidence standard.”

This method of analysis makes more sense than — as I suspect other courts would have done — using the “mixed question of law and fact” standard of review. That standard, which looks more and more to represent a failure to face the more difficult analysis posed by the dual standards of review the court used here, asks whether the trial court’s decision was “clearly erroneous.”

In twin cases, former aldermen Virgil Jones and Ambrosio Medrano, both convicted of federal felonies for misconduct in office, filed nomination papers to run for alderman again. Challenges were made to their nomination papers on the basis that the Illinois Municipal Code prohibited convicted felons from serving in an “elective municipal office.”

In both cases, the Chicago Election Board’s hearing examiner concluded that Jones and Medrano were ineligible to serve, and recommended that they not appear on the election ballot. Appeals were made to the Chicago Election Board. In both cases, the Board rejected the challenges because, it said, the statute prohibiting convicted felons from serving in an elective municipal office was unconstitutional. The challengers sought review in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. In both cases, the circuit court affirmed the ruling of the Board.

The challengers sought direct review in the Illinois Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals, stating that the cases were more appropriately handled by supervisory orders than by direct appeal.

A bill that would establish public funding for campaigns for Illinois appellate and supreme courts stalled at the end of the General Assembly Spring session. I’ve reported occasionally about the status of SB 0222. The bill would give primary winners for the appellate and supreme court seats public money for their campaigns, and also would also set contribution limits for all judicial campaigns. The bill made no provision for funding for independent or third party candidates.

When the General Assembly session ended on May 31, 2007, the bill was re-referred to the Senate Rules Committee. A 60 percent supermajority vote will be required to pass the bill this year. However, the bill can be filed next year, when passage again will require a simple majority vote. We’re safe − for now.

The full text of the bill is right here.

Earlier this month, SB 0222, the bill to regulate judicial campaigns by institutionalizing public funding for appellate and supreme court seats and limiting contributions to all candidates passed in the Illinois Senate. The vote was 46 to 12. Click here to see the vote.

The bill is pending in the House Executive Committee and has an action deadline of May 31, 2007. The House bill has a 22 sponsors .

The bill would provide funding for candidates of major parties who are running for the Illinois Appellate Court ($250,000) and the Illinois Supreme Court ($750,000). The bill also allots money to primary candidates who meet certain baseline support criteria. It also caps contributions by individuals to a judicial candidate (circuit court included) to $2,000 per election period.

In Illinois, judges are elected officials. They campaign for office, just like every other politician. Once elected, their actions are subject to political analysis and opinion, including conjecture and speculation, just like every other politician. No politician likes that, but two governing principles allow it: the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the common law rule of tough. If you’re stepping in the ring, you better be able to take a shot to the kazoo.

In 2003, the Kane County Chronicle, a smallish newspaper with a circulation then of about 12-13,000, ran a series of opinion pieces that suggested Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas traded his vote in an attorney disciplinary matter for political favor.

This grew out of the Anne Gorecki fiasco. Gorecki, formerly the Kane County State’s Attorney, reportedly put the arm on a job-seeker for a political contribution. She was brought before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission for her faux pas. The matter eventually worked its way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which inspired the Chronicle’s series.

Illinois Senate Bill 0222, which would give public money to primary winners for their campaigns for appellate and supreme court seats, advanced out of committee to the full Senate today. The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reports (subscription required) that the bill was unanimously passed by the Senate Local Government Committee. The General Assembly web site shows the bill will receive a second reading tomorrow.

Since I reported on the bill on February 22, the bill has picked up five additional sponsers: Sen. John Cullerton (D-6th), Sen. David Koehler (D-46th), Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-33rd), Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-12th), and Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-32nd). There now are 11 sponsors.

For my earlier reports on this bill, see my February 7, 14, and 22 entries listed under Politics? The bill would give each primary winner $750,000 of public money to run for a supreme court seat, and $250,000 for an appellate court seat contest. The bill does not make a provision for independent or third (minor) party candidates.

Since I last reported on SB 0222 on February 14, the bill has picked up three additional sponsors: Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16th), a Chief Co-Sponsor; Sen. Susan Garrett (D-29th), a Chief Co-Sponsor; and Sen. William Delgado (D-2nd).

Yesterday the bill was referred to the Senate Local Government Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the bill on February 28, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. at the Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois.

See my explanation of the bill, and how it ignores and thus makes election of independent and minor party candidates much harder, at the February 14, 2007 entry just below.

I first wrote about the pending Illinois Senate bill to provide public financing for appellate and supreme court judicial candidates a few days ago. It’s SB0222, filed by Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13th) (Chicago), on February 7, 2007. The bill has bi-partisan sponsorship; a chief co-sponsor is Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-24th) (Minority Whip from DuPage County). Another chief co-sponsor is Sen. Don Harmon (D-39th) (Oak Park).

The bill sets up a process by which major party candidates can obtain public financing for their campaigns for appellate and supreme court seats. Under SB0222, candidates do not have to accept public money, but if they do there are strict limits on fundraising and expenditures. If a candidate accepts the public money — $250,000 for appellate court candidates for the general election; $750,000 for supreme court candidates — then private donations to the campaign are limited to $100 per contributor. A candidate may not put more than $10,000 of his or her own money, including money from his or her immediate family, into the campaign, and may not make a loan to the campaign.

The bill contains a detailed regime for fundraising and for institutionalizing the “Illinois Judicial Election Democracy Trust.” The Trust, which would operate under the governance of the State Board of Elections, will dole out the campaign money.

A bill pending in the Illinois General Assembly would change financing and spending for candidates for the Illinois Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal. today reports on a plan to allot $750,000 to supreme court candidates and $250,000 to appellate court candidates from a public trust fund. More details are available on the bill by clicking here.

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