IL Supreme Court considers Chicago's red light cameras

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Far from the hustle and bustle of Chicago, the Illinois Supreme Court considers a constitutional challenge of the legality of red light cameras.

At Wednesday's hearing, plaintiffs say Chicago City Hall began using the cameras before the Illinois General Assembly gave it the legal authority to do so. At issue: red light cameras are only allowed in eight counties- not the entire state and plaintiffs wonder if a camera's still photo can replace a cop in issuing moving violations.

"The Chicago version of the red light prohibition says that the signals apply to drivers. It doesn't say that they apply to owners," plaintiff attorney Mike Reagan said.

Cities who use the cameras argue red light cameras are another tool.

"The law enforcement resources for addressing those red lights is not up to par," Kerrie Maloney Laytin, Chicago Asst. Corporation, said.

"Did the attorney for the city really go on the record to say the City of Chicago doesn't have enough cops to enforce its traffic laws? Twice she said that," Don Brandsford, Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras, said.

"Our fundamental issue is if red light violations are a problem, then they are a problem everywhere in the state and you're not allowed to make a local law just because you can't get enough votes in the state senate to pass a general law," Patrick Keating, plaintiff's attorney, said.

Keating's wife, Elizabeth, is among the plaintiffs. She was driving with her daughter who had just broken a wrist when a camera captured her rolling through a red light.

"I hope everyone speaks up like we have. I hope that the court does look at the program. I hope that the city suffers some scrutiny," Elizabeth Keating said.

Six justices will decide this case. For plaintiffs to win, four justices would have to vote to reverse an appellate court ruling.

Justice Anne Burke is not voting. She recused herself from the case because her husband, powerful alderman Ed Burke, is among those who voted to bring red light cameras to Chicago.

The high court normally hears oral arguments in Springfield, but that courthouse is undergoing renovations, which is why the hearing was held in Ottawa.
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