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SMITH v. BOYLE

April 16, 1997

HAROLD B. SMITH, DALLAS C. INGEMUNSON, AL JOURDAN AND THE ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN PARTY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
KENNETH R. BOYLE, HANNELORE HUISMAN, JUDITH A. JONES, MITCHELL P. KOBELINSKI, DAVID E. MURRAY, LANGDON D. NEAL, THERESA M. PETRONE, WANDA L. REDNOUR, ONLY IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AS MEMBERS OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, AND GEORGE H. RYAN, ONLY IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:

OPINION

In the main, federal courts should stay out of political matters. Federal judges have no business meddling in uniquely state questions unless those issues are in direct conflict with the United States Constitution.

In 1877, the U.S. Supreme Court held that to redress legislative action, "the people must resort to the polls, not to the courts."*fn1

The bottom line: This Court concludes that the redistricting claim here is a nonjusticiable political question that must be left to the legislative and judicial branches of the State of Illinois.

I. BACKGROUND

In 1970, an Illinois Constitutional Convention convened and formulated a new state constitution.*fn2 On December 15, 1970, Illinois' electorate ratified this new constitution, and it became effective on July 1, 1971. Therein, sections 2 and 3 of article VI of the Illinois Constitution provide:

§ 2 Judicial Districts

    The State is divided into five Judicial
  Districts for the selection of Supreme and
  Appellate Court Judges. The First Judicial
  District consists of Cook County. The remainder
  of the State shall be divided by law into four
  Judicial Districts of substantially equal
  population, each of which shall be compact and
  composed of contiguous counties.

§ 3 Supreme Court — Organization

    The Supreme Court shall consist of seven
  Judges. Three shall be selected from the First
  Judicial District and one from each of the other
  Judicial Districts. . . .

In this action, the Republican Party argues that sections 2 and 3 of article VI of the Illinois Constitution violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, it claims that said sections violate the Equal Protection Clause. The Republican Party states that since 1970, no Republican nominee has ever won an election to the office of Illinois Supreme Court Justice in the First Judicial District, and it blames this result on the at-large, multi-member election scheme employed in the First Judicial District.

Furthermore, the Republican Party argues that if the First Judicial District were subdivided into three separate subdistricts, its voting strength would be sufficient to elect a candidate from at least one of the three subdistricts. It asserts that the at-large, multi-member method of electing Illinois Supreme Court Justices impermissibly discriminates against Cook County Republican voters. The Republican Party claims that due to the at-large, multi-member election system, its voting strength has been impermissibly diluted in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

Accordingly, the Complaint asks the Court to declare that sections 2 and 3 of article VI of the Illinois Constitution violate the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

Defendants are the individual members of the Illinois State Board of Elections, the Illinois State Board of Elections as an entity, and Secretary of State George Ryan, in his official capacity, who is responsible for certifying the candidates for the position of Illinois Supreme Court Justice. Defendants offer four arguments as to why the Complaint should be dismissed. First, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs Ingemunson and Jourdan do not have standing to bring this suit. Second, Defendants assert that the Illinois State Board of Elections enjoys immunity from this suit under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Third, Defendants state that Plaintiffs' claim is nonjusticiable. Finally, Defendants claim that Plaintiffs' Complaint fails to sufficiently allege a claim of vote dilution under the Equal Protection Clause.

Accordingly, for these reasons, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' Complaint should be dismissed.

II. LEGAL STANDARD FOR MOTIONS TO DISMISS

In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court "must accept well pleaded allegations of the complaint as true. In addition, the Court must view these allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Gomez v. Illinois State Bd. of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). Although a complaint is not required to contain a detailed outline of the claim's basis, it nevertheless "must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1984). Mere conclusions, without supporting factual allegations, are insufficient to support a claim for relief. Cohen v. Illinois Inst. of Tech., 581 F.2d 658, 663 (7th Cir. 1978). Dismissal should not be granted ...


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