SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
529 N.E.2d 565, 124 Ill. 2d 317, 124 Ill. Dec. 584 1988.IL.1410
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County, the Hon. Rita B. Garman, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE RYAN delivered the opinion of the court. MILLER and STAMOS, JJ., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE RYAN
The plaintiff, David C. Thies, brought this action in the circuit court of Champaign County seeking a declaration that recent statutory amendments relating to the circuit courts are unconstitutional. Public Act 85-866, as amended by Public Act 85-903, inter alia, created a new circuit Judgeship for the sixth judicial circuit. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 37, par. 72.2c(2).) The legislation provided that the candidate for this position must be a resident of Champaign County, but nevertheless must run for the office throughout the entire sixth circuit. The sixth judicial circuit is comprised of Champaign, De Witt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt Counties. The sole issue in this case is whether the Illinois Constitution permits the creation by the legislature of a circuit Judgeship where the candidate has to be a resident of a particular county but must run for the office throughout the entire circuit. The circuit court of Champaign County concluded that it does not and declared section 2c(2) of Public Act 85-866 and section 2c(2) of Public Act 85-903 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 37, par. 72.2c(2)) unconstitutional. A direct appeal to this court was taken pursuant to Rule 302(a)(1) (107 Ill. 2d R. 302(a)(1)). We affirm the circuit court.
The trial court held that sections 2c(2) of Public Act 85 -- 866 and 2c(2) of Public Act 85 -- 903 are unconstitutional because they violated article VI, section 7(a), of the Illinois Constitution of 1970. The trial court concluded that article VI, section 7(a), of the Illinois Constitution prohibits the election of circuit Judges in the manner established by Public Acts 85 -- 866 and 85 -- 903. Article VI, section 7(a), provides:
"The State shall be divided into Judicial Circuits consisting of one or more counties. The First Judicial District shall constitute a Judicial Circuit. The Judicial Circuits within other Judicial Districts shall be provided by law. Circuits composed of more than one county shall be compact and of contiguous counties. The General Assembly by law may provide for the division of a circuit for the purpose of selection of Circuit Judges and for the selection of Circuit Judges from the circuit at large." (Emphasis added.) (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 7(a).)
Prior to Public Act 85 -- 866, circuit Judges in Illinois had been elected for office in one of two ways: circuit Judgeships had been either at-large positions -- candidates elected by the voters of the entire circuit had to be residents of the circuit -- or resident positions -- candidates elected only by a county or division of the circuit were required to be residents of that county or division. Thus, the issue is whether, under the Constitution, the legislature may create a position which requires a Judge to be a resident of one county and yet be elected from the circuit at large.
The trial court relied on the Record of Proceedings of the constitutional convention in concluding that Public Act 85 -- 866, as amended by Public Act 85 -- 903, violated article VI, section 7(a). During debate, the following exchange occurred:
"MR. LEWIS: Well, that's what I was wondering. It looks like it is possible that the legislature could then conclude that there would have to be somebody running from Brown County, but that that election would be at large and no one else from any other county could oppose a Brown County man.
MR. FAY: No, I don't think so. I think it would be an election within Brown County.
MR. LEWIS: It is your intention, at least, that it ...