CHICAGO – Dennis FitzSimons, Chair of Independent Maps, on Tuesday issued the following statement in response to the Illinois Supreme Court’s refusal to reconsider its 4 to 3 decision disqualifying the redistricting reform amendment from the ballot:
With the Illinois Supreme Court’s refusal to reconsider its 4 to 3 ruling against the Independent Map Amendment, Illinois voters have been denied their right to vote on a constitutional amendment to remove politics from the way state legislative maps are drawn. Four members of the state’s highest court have rejected an amendment that we firmly believe meets the state constitutional requirements for amendments that can be proposed by voters.
Our bi-partisan coalition collected more than 563,000 signatures on petitions to place the amendment before voters and to allow voters to decide whether to change the redistricting process, which now gives legislators the power to draw their own district boundary lines – a clear conflict of interest and one of the reasons there is only one candidate running in 60 percent of this year’s legislative elections.
Unlike what they had done in every single similar case, the majority of the Supreme Court refused to consider transcripts of the Constitutional Convention debates, which support our argument that the amendment is exactly what the framers intended to allow citizens to do. They ruled on only one of seven arguments made by opponents and did not consider the other six counts – leaving those questions “for another day.” But that “another day” may never come.
We asked that, at a minimum, the court give voters guidance about what the majority believes is permissible in a citizen-initiated amendment to reform redistricting through a fair and impartial commission. Today, without comment, the court refused.
Our coalition remains committed to reform and believes an independent redistricting commission would be one important step in changing state government and making the legislature more responsive to the voters of this state. Whether that is possible through a citizen-initiated amendment is now an open question to be discussed by supporters throughout the state.
We are grateful to our thousands of supporters and contributors, to the many, many Illinoisans who gave up nights and weekends to circulate petitions and organize volunteers, and to the great outpouring of support from newspaper editorial boards and opinion leaders throughout Illinois.
Change is difficult, especially in Illinois government, but it is a battle worth fighting.