As courtroom smoke clears, redistricting battleground shifts to General Assembly
Four Democratic State Supreme Court justices dropped a politically charged bomb when they voted to reject the Independent Map Amendment championed by thousands of constituents who signed petitions.
Ruling 4-3 against the amendment — and repeating the ratio in a subsequent decision not to rehear the case — the court’s Democratic justices -- Thomas Kilbride, Mary Jane Theis, Anne Burke and Charles Freeman -- drew widespread Republican scorn.
“Republicans across Illinois are united in their support of redistricting reform,” Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said. “It’s time for rank-and-file Democrats that publicly backed the Independent Map Amendment to buck [House] Speaker [Mike] Madigan (D-Chicago) and demand that the amendment is brought up for a vote in both chambers during the veto session.”
In response to the decision, Gov. Bruce Rauner said it is up to the General Assembly to address political change when it reconvenes. Voters may be forced to rely on Democratic legislators to push for a redistricting amendment, however, with fewer Republicans holding seats in the General Assembly.
The ruling's long-term implications suggest a continued struggle to cultivate competition in state elections going forward.
“Illinois voters have been denied their right to vote on a constitutional amendment to remove politics from the way state legislative maps are drawn,” Independent Maps Chairman Dennis FitzSimons said, expressing gratitude to supporters and contributors, and firmly asserting that the coalition remains dedicated to redistricting reform.
“Change is difficult, especially in Illinois government, but it is a battle worth fighting,” FitzSimons said.