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.
This motion could be even more important. The Illinois Supreme Court accepts only about 4.5 percent of discretionary cases, and very few of those are direct appeals from the trial court. Plaintiffs are asking the supreme court to take the case, even though it hasn’t been through the court of appeals, because of the importance of the issues and the decreasing time to formulate and implement a meaningful remedy. (The Chicago Tribune agrees that the supreme court should take the case. Click here to get the Tribune’s lead editorial in today’s edition.)
As absentee and military ballots continue to be distributed, each with the unconstitutional and “downright misleading” language, and people vote them, the cloud over the referendum increases. Voters need a decision on the merits, preferably from the Supreme Court of Illinois, as soon as possible.
Until that decision is made, the only way to stop compounding the problem of voters receiving and voting on constitutionally infirm ballots, is to stop distributing them. The government defendants won’t do that unless they are ordered to by an appellate court.
We’ll keep you informed how your appellate and supreme courts rule in the next few days, if at all.