Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary L. Mikva today entered an order that will prevent both of the proposed constitutional amendments, Bruce Rauner's highly-publicized term limits initiative, and the independent redistricting amendment, from appearing on the November ballot.
All the machinations involving the Illinois State Board of Elections, all the Tribune's editorial hand-wringing, proved to be for naught.
Here is the complete text of Judge Mikva's order:
In my opinion, the term limits proposal was never more than a dumb gimmick: We already have term limits; we always have. They're called elections. If you and your neighbors don't like the bum you elected last time, at least in theory, you and your neighbors can always elect someone else.
Of course, the theory falls apart when politicians control the redistricting process and draw districts that preserve incumbents in office. Instead of voters choosing their representatives, our representatives choose their voters. Republicans and Democrats alike are united in their opposition to nonpartisan map-making. As I wrote recently, "[N]othing lasts forever, especially in politics. The Republicans will presumably have their day again. Eventually. And when they get it, they don't want to have to deal with fairly drawn districts; they will want a chance to draw three Democratic incumbents into the same new district and see how they like it. Republicans want to pick friendly voters and hamstring their opponents just as badly as Democrats do."
The ballyhoo about the term limits amendment notwithstanding, the redistricting amendment was the one that really worried political professionals.
Fortunately for the political professionals, if not for the body politic, the redistricting amendment carried within it the seeds of its own destruction. In the linked post I put up earlier this month, I wrote, "This sentence in the proposed Amendment, for example, seems likely to cause trouble: 'For ten years after service as a Commissioner or Special Commissioner [on the Independent Redistricting Commission], a person is ineligible to serve as a Senator, Representative, officer of the Executive Branch, Judge, or Associate Judge of the State or an officer or employee of the State whose appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate.'"
Judge Mikva's order today focuses on this provision as the major flaw in the restricting proposal. But the good news, potentially, in the court's order is that "a differently drafted redistricting initiative could be valid" (Order p. 11). There is still reason to hope.
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