Independent Maps coalition calls on state's high court to reverse ballot ruling
Independent Maps Amendment coalition supporters said recently that the Illinois Supreme Court should reverse a recent Cook County Circuit Court ruling and order the state to put the Independent Map Amendment on the ballot in the upcoming November election.
The group filed a brief recently with the high court following the lower-court decision to ban the initiative from the ballot, arguing that the ruling mistakenly interprets the state constitution and contradicts the law. The brief said that if allowed to stand, the decision would “nullify the constitutional rights of Illinois citizens” to craft redistricting amendments.
“The language of the Illinois Constitution and legislative history of the convention debates are indisputable,” Dennis FitzSimons, chairman of Independent Maps said. “Redistricting reform is clearly a topic that can be addressed by a citizen-initiated amendment, and the Independent Map Amendment is exactly what the men and women who wrote the Constitution had in mind when they granted Illinoisans this power.”
The brief said the framers of the Constitution identified redistricting as one of the “critical” areas that voters could address in a citizen-initiated amendment. While citizen-initiated amendments are limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in the legislative article, the constitution’s “limited to” language was designed to prevent initiatives on substantive issues such as taxes, abortion or the death penalty, but the language was not intended to stifle creativity of initiatives related to the legislature.
“The circuit court reached the wrong conclusion because it refused to interpret the Redistricting Initiative in a common-sense manner, recognizing that each and every aspect of it is directly related to (and only to) redistricting,” the brief said. “Under these circumstances, denying Illinois voters the right to vote on the Redistricting Initiative would deprive all of the citizens of Illinois of an important constitutional right reserved to the people by the 1970 constitution.”
The brief also said Redistricting Initiative provisions seek to improve the redistricting process by establishing more objective standards and by updating procedures to minimize self-interest or partisanship.
“The more-than-560,000 Illinoisans who signed our petitions to put this important reform on the ballot are counting on the Supreme Court to rule that this amendment be placed before voters in November,” FitzSimons said. “And the many, many more Illinoisans frustrated by the lack of competition in legislative elections and the performance of the state legislature deserve an opportunity to repair the broken system that legislators refuse to reform.”
The 50-page brief is available on the Independent Maps website (www.MapAmendment.org).