SPRINGFIELD - Friday, Illinois lawmakers from all over the state expressed their dismay with the Illinois Supreme Court Democrat majority's decision to block voters from expressing their opinion on a proposed November referendum.
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) released the following statement Friday:
Illinois residents, as Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas writes, have had their voices ‘muzzled’ after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled yesterday that only politicians, and not the people, have the power to draw legislative district maps.
We cannot disenfranchise the will of 600,000 Illinois residents who supported and signed a petition to put a Fair Map Amendment on the ballot so that they, the people of this great State, have the power to draw legislative district maps.
In response to this decision, Senate Republicans will be exploring other options to ensure the people of Illinois have their voice heard. The legislature must act.
State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) called on his colleagues to find another path to giving the voters a voice on the topic
The Illinois Supreme Court decided to block the voters’ opportunity to have a say on the Independent Map Amendment. With this being the final decision, I call on my fellow legislators in the General Assembly to explore other options. Hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans signed a petition to make the process of drawing legislative districts less political. The General Assembly has a duty to uphold the democratic process and give the people a voice on this matter.
State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said 500 thousand petitioners signers should not be ignored:
I have long believed that Illinois needs a better, more fair system to draw its legislative districts. Last spring I cosponsored a constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting committee to accomplish this goal.
Illinois citizens have clearly demonstrated that they want fair maps, and earlier this year more than 500 thousand of our friends and neighbors signed a petition to get Independent Maps on the November ballot, giving the people the opportunity to choose a better system. While today’s ruling is a big loss for the people of Illinois, it is not the end. We will continue to fight for fair maps in Illinois.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) wrote on her Facebook page Thursday night:
Take Back the State - Vote Republican.
Madigan and his lawyer challenged this referendum petition in 2014 and now 2016 - they win, we lose. If they think there is a problem with the structure or language of the referendum, they can write their own version they think is constitutional and let the legislature vote to put it on the ballot. There are multiple bills for redistricting(I think 7 -filed by both parties) already filed in the ILGA to bring this referendum to the ballot via the legislature. Madigan and Cullerton won't let them be heard, debated and voted on. The only tactic they know is to pass separate bills out of each chamber and then let them die in the other chamber. They like drawing maps and picking their voters themselves.
Governor Bruce Rauner, who publicly supported the Fair Map Amendment effort, responded with frustration:
Today's ruling is a harsh reminder that the political system in Illinois is in need of major reforms. I hope the decision to deny voters the chance to consider the Independent Map redistricting referendum is appealed and reversed.
Independent redistricting is badly needed in our state. A stunning two-thirds of incumbents will be running unopposed in November. That’s certainly not because the politicians in charge are doing such a good job in Springfield. It means the system is broken.
Legislators in power could have placed the Independent Maps referendum directly on the ballot and avoided this court decision. Instead, they chose to play politics in an effort to protect their own power.
That is wrong.
We have it backwards in Illinois. Voters should be able to choose their elected officials through an independently-drawn map that ensures competitive elections. Instead, we have politicians choosing their voters, putting politics ahead of people.
Independent Maps has strong support from both Democrats and Republicans. It has strong support from non-partisan good government groups. So this ruling is a definitely a setback for the people of Illinois.
If this decision remains in place, it will prove that we need to put political reform at the top of our legislative agenda. We need to fix our broken political system to ensure taxpayers win instead of the insiders.
The Illinois Republican Party Spokeman Steve Yaffe pointed directly to Speaker Madigan:
The only thing standing in the way of political reform is Mike Madigan. Madigan and his allies sued to stop citizen-led ballot initiatives for Independent Maps and term limits, and the Speaker has used his power to stop both from passing or being voted on in Springfield. Madigan has worked tirelessly against reforms that would threaten his ability to rig Illinois’ political system in his favor. Legislators from both parties must reject Madigan’s obstructionism and demand reform.