Former Prosecutors & Appellate Court Justice Speak Out Against Meddling in Illinois Supreme Court Races (Chicago, IL) – Earlier today, two former prosecutors and a former Appellate Court Justice held a press conference to highlight the unprecedented level of spending from Democratic leaders on the two contested Illinois Supreme Court races in the Chicago suburbs.
Former Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, former Appellate Court Justice Bob Spence, and State Sen. John Curran, who served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Cook County, all spoke out against the millions of dollars Governor Pritzker, Speaker Welch, President Harmon, and other Democratic lawmakers have spent to elect Justice Mary K. O’Brien and Judge Elizabeth Rochford.
“I and all of us are here today because the future of good government; reforms like independent map and fair maps, public safety, bipartisanship in the State of Illinois are on the ballot in this election for the Illinois Supreme Court in the 2nd and 3rd district. The independence of all three coequal branches of government is critical to restoring Illinois as a leader in job creation, public safety where people want to work and live,” said former Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph “Joe” McMahon. “An independent and impartial jury is critical to good government and is the only remaining check on the absolute political power of the Democrat Party in Cook County. Public confidence in judicial independence and impartiality is eroding when leaders of the other two branches of government try to control and dictate the outcome of judicial elections.”
Balance of Power
“The Supreme Court is supposed to be a check on the General Assembly and on the Governor, we learned that in eighth grade – it’s not difficult, said Former Appellate Court Justice Robert Spence. “Other issues that could be decided by the court are “gerrymandering and fair maps.”
The sheer scale of spending by Democratic lawmakers in these races has major implications for the independence of Illinois’ judiciary. The outcome of these two Court races could decide the future of legislative redistricting, the so-called “SAFE-T Act,” and other issues that Pritzker, Harmon, and Welch have a major stake in. This unusual level of involvement from lawmakers in a Supreme Court race hasn’t been seen since Speaker Mike Madigan bankrolled the failed retention campaign of former Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride.
As of yesterday, October 31st, Governor Pritzker, Speaker Welch, President Harmon, and other Democratic lawmakers have spent over $3.5 million to elect Justice O’Brien and Judge Rochford:
President Don Harmon and other Democratic lawmakers have poured in $850,000 to an outside political action group – “All for Justice” – that backs O’Brien and Rochford.
Provisions of the “SAFE-T Act,” including the controversial elimination of cash bail, go into effect across Illinois on January 1, 2023. 58 Democratic and Republican State’s Attorneys have filed suit against Governor Pritzker and others over the constitutionality of the legislation. The plaintiffs were granted a motion to consolidate into one suit – Rowe v Raoul – which could make its way to the Illinois Supreme Court to decide its fate. The decision as to the constitutionality of the SAFE-T Act could ultimately hinge on the decisions of two justices who have received millions of dollars from SAFE-T Act champions – Pritzker, Welch, Harmon, and others – as part of their pathway to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Turnover
Given the amount of turnover in the Illinois Supreme Court, it’s possible that civic organizations and good government-oriented citizens may try another attempt at a citizen-led referendum to reform Illinois’ legislative redistricting process. Another “Fair Maps” or “Independent Maps” referendum initiative would likely end up before the Court before the referendum would be placed on the ballot. Pritzker, Welch, and Harmon are all supporters of gerrymandering, and Mary K. O’Brien herself supported Speaker Madigan’s gerrymandered maps in the General Assembly. O’Brien even had her district redrawn to include family members who lived outside her old district so they could vote for her (Kurt Erickson, “AFL-CIO endorsement big news for Kelleher,” The Pantagraph, 12/16/01).
Pritzker contributed $500,000 each from one of his many financial trusts to O’Brien’s and Rochford’s campaigns. Doing so was a convenient way to skirt campaign contribution limits for judicial races that Pritzker himself signed into law just five months ago.
Former Prosecutors & Appellate Court Justice Speak Out Against Meddling in Illinois Supreme Court Races