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02/05/96 VILLAGE SCHAUMBURG v. BECKY DOYLE

February 5, 1996

VILLAGE OF SCHAUMBURG, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND GEORGE LONGMEYER, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
BECKY DOYLE, AS DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OF ILLINOIS, AND NOT PERSONALLY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE LESTER D. FOREMAN, JUDGE PRESIDING.

The Honorable Justice Wolfson delivered the opinion of the court: Campbell, P.j. and Braden, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wolfson

The Honorable Justice WOLFSON delivered the opinion of the court:

In the spring of 1993 the Illinois Legislature was concerned about the lack of a statewide policy for the regulation and use of pesticides. Units of local government were free to establish their own regulatory schemes for pesticide use. Many did, including the Village of Schaumburg, a home rule unit. Nothing in the Illinois Pesticide Act (415 ILCS 60/1 et seq. (West 1992)) prevented local regulation.

The legislature addressed its concern in P.A. 88-345, an amendment to section 3 of the Pesticide Act (P.A.). Effective August 13, 1993, subsection 4 of section 3 prohibits the regulation of pesticides by any political subdivision, including home rule units, except for counties and municipalities with a population of more than two million. 415 ILCS 60/3 (4) (West 1992).

It is undisputed that Cook County and the City of Chicago are the only "counties and municipalities" with a population of more than 2,000,000.

The Village of Schaumburg and its village manager filed a declaratory judgment action against Becky Doyle, Director of the State of Illinois Department of Agriculture. Doyle is charged by statute with the enforcement of the Pesticide Act. The plaintiffs, claiming the amendment is unconstitutional, sought to enjoin that enforcement.

Plaintiffs make three arguments against the constitutionality of P.A. 88-345:

1. The amendment violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Federal and State constitutions;

2. The amendment violates the Illinois constitution's prohibition against special legislation;

3. The amendment violates the Illinois constitution's provision concerning the amendment of other statutes, in this case the Lawn Care Products Application and Notice Act (LCPANA). See 415 ILCS 65/1 et seq. (West 1992).

The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the declaratory judgment action pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1992), alleging the complaint failed to state a cause of action. The trial judge agreed and dismissed the action.

We affirm the trial judge's decision.

OPINION

1. The Plaintiffs' Standing To Sue.

Serious standing questions attend the plaintiffs' lawsuit.

The defendant contends the Village has no authority to challenge the right of its creator, the General Assembly, to enact the legislation at issue. Plaintiffs answer that where they allege that a State official, such as Doyle, or a State agency is about to exercise powers granted by an unconstitutional statute, a suit in equity is not a suit against the State and may be maintained.

The weight of authority in this State supports the proposition that a municipality may not attack an act of the General Assembly on due process or equal protection grounds, but may contend it is a victim of improper special or local legislation.

In Meador v. City of Salem (1972), 51 Ill. 2d 572, 284 N.E.2d 266, the City contended a provision of the Illinois Municipal Code established an unreasonable and arbitrary classification and was vague, uncertain, and indefinite in its meaning, depriving it of its rights under the due process clauses of the Federal and Illinois constitutions. The court held the City had no standing to make those constitutional attacks on the statute, citing Williams v. Baltimore (1933), 289 U.S. 36, 40, 77 L. Ed. 1015, 1020, 53 S. Ct. 431:

"A municipal corporation, created by a state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the Federal Constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator."

Although Meador usually is considered a due process case, the city-defendant had made an equal protection argument against the statute.

The waters were muddied five years later in Cronin v. Lindberg (1976), 66 Ill. 2d 47, 360 N.E.2d 360, 4 Ill. Dec. 424. There, the Supreme Court held a school board had no standing to question legislation on due process grounds, but could assert an equal protection claim if it is a member of a class being discriminated against. Cronin relied on three cases to support that proposition. None of the three cases concerned an equal protection claim. See Board of Education v. Bakalis (1973), 54 Ill. 2d 448, 299 N.E.2d 737 (issues of church-state separation and special legislation); City of Carbondale v. Van Natta (1975), 61 Ill. 2d 483, 338 N.E.2d 19 (issue of special legislative classification); and Leno v. St. Joseph Hospital (1973), 55 Ill. 2d 114, 302 N.E.2d 58 (suit by an individual, not a governmental agency).

Cronin ignored Meador. Cases decided after Cronin cited to Meador and ignored Cronin when deciding issues of standing.

Later in 1977, an appellate court held it to be the "settled law of Illinois" that a municipality may not assert due process or equal protection claims against State legislative action. People v. Valentine (1977), 50 Ill. App. 3d 447, 452, 365 N.E.2d 1082, 1086, 8 Ill. Dec. 696.

In 1979, an appellate court, citing Valentine, held that a municipality could not challenge rules of the Department of Public Aid on due process or equal protection grounds because a municipality is not a "person" within the meaning of those amendments. Franciscan Hospital v. Town of Canoe Creek (1979), 79 Ill. App. 3d 490, 398 N.E.2d 413, 34 Ill. Dec. 738.

In City of Elgin v. County of Cook (1993), 257 Ill. App. 3d 186, 629 N.E.2d 86, 195 Ill. Dec. 778, the City challenged a county zoning ordinance granting a special use permit to build a solid waste disposal facility. We held the City was not a "person" entitled to due process and equal protection rights under the Federal and Illinois constitutions.

It is clear that a municipality cannot assert a due process claim against State legislation. (See Village of Riverwoods v. Department of Transportation (1979), 77 Ill. 2d 130, 136, 395 N.E.2d 555, 32 Ill. Dec. 325.) Whether the municipality can claim a denial of equal protection is a more difficult question.

Some Illinois Supreme Court decisions have decided the merits of a governmental unit's equal protection claim where the question of standing was not raised. County of Bureau v. Thompson (1990), 139 Ill. 2d 323, 564 N.E.2d 1170, 151 Ill. Dec. 508; Village of Oak Lawn v. ...


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