Independent Map Amendment ruled unconstitutional

Friday, August 26, 2016
Independent Map amendment ruling reaction
The Independent Map amendment will not be on the ballot for voters to consider this November.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Independent Map Amendment will not be on the ballot for voters to consider this November.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled the amendment violates the state's constitution.

Two years after it struck down an attempt to put a term limits amendment on the ballot, the divided Illinois Supreme Court stopped redistricting reform before the question reached the voters.

Dennis FitzSimons, the chairman of the Independent Maps coalition, whose group collected 563,000 signatures to put the amendment on the fall ballot, was disappointed in the court's ruling.

"I think it's a bad day for voters. I think it's a bad day for the state," said FitzSimons. "Because a lot of people got behind this campaign, because they wanted to change the status quo. They wanted to change a system that was broken and wasn't working."

Every ten years, the state's general assembly draws maps defining the districts from which its members are elected and the governor signs off on them.

In 2011, Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor's office resulting in maps that allegedly favor Democratic candidates.

"Both parties would take advantage of this process if they could," said FitzSimons.

In yesterday's ruling, the state supreme court justices divided along party lines, four Democrats over three Republicans, rejecting the effort to change the system.

"I think politics did come into it. I don't think there's any doubt," said FitzSimons.

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan - also the state Democratic chairman - will not acknowledge any role in hiring the lawyers that argued against putting the question to the voters.

The anti-reform People's Map group issued a statement saying that if the proposed amendment passed, "Minority voters across the state would have had their voices and rights weakened..."

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, an outspoken supporter of redistricting reform criticized the court, calling the system "rigged" to maintain Democratic party control.

"This is wrong ladies and gentlemen. Our system is broken," said Gov. Rauner. "You should be able to vote on this. You deserve to be able to vote on this. The court should not be denying your right to vote on this issue."

The redistricting reform supporters are still processing the high court ruling and say they will decide next week on whether to ask for a re-hearing.