Independent Maps coalition cites Supreme Court ruling in favor of amendment's legality
Just a few days away from the Cook County Circuit Court case that will rule on the constitutionality of the Independent Maps amendment, the Independent Maps coalition cited a Supreme Court ruling that it says already decided the matter in favor of such legislation.
The case the group cited was Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, where the Supreme Court ruled that voters in Arizona had the right to move the power to draw election districts from the state legislature to an independent commission.
"The U.S. Supreme Court ruling erases any doubt about the constitutionality of redistricting by independent commissions," Cynthia Canary, executive director of the Independent Maps coalition, said. "The court majority opinion also made it clear that states with independent commissions have succeeded to a great degree in limiting the conflicts of interest that occur when legislators have control over drawing of legislative district maps."
The Independent Maps coalition collected more than 563,000 signatures, well over the 290,216 needed to place it on the November ballot. Illinois Democratic Party General Counsel Michael Kasper, however, filed a lawsuit in May challenging the amendment's constitutionality. The hearing for that case is set to take place Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit, which many Republicans see as being a direct effort from Democratic Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, has drawn heavy criticism from the Republican party.
“Illinoisans want the opportunity come November to vote to stop entrenched Springfield politicians from drawing legislative districts," Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said. "The public overwhelmingly realizes that it’s wrong and antithetical to democracy for politicians to pick their voters. Mike Madigan, the living embodiment of entrenched power, does not care about democracy or doing the right thing. He is sponsoring the lawsuit to get the Independent Map Amendment thrown off the November ballot because he wants control over who you can even cast your vote for. He has no shame.”
The Independent Maps Amendment, like the Arizona legislation, would move the authority to draw election district maps from the state legislature to an independent commission. It would create an 11-member commission, with the make-up of the commission designed to reflect the demographic and geographic diversity of the state. The commission's meetings and records would be open to the public, and any adoption of maps would require a seven-vote majority, with at least two Democrats and two Republicans.
"The current redistricting process in Illinois has state legislators in charge of drawing the boundary lines of their own districts," Canary said. "It has so damaged our democracy that nearly 60 percent of legislators elected last year didn't even have an opponent. Redistricting by an independent commission will help restore representative democracy and give voters more choices."