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WINTERS v. ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS

November 20, 2001

DAVID WINTERS, PATRICIA REID LINDNER, J. BRADLEY BURZYNSKI, YOLANDA CAMPUZANO, ARMANDO CARDENAS, GUADALUPE GARCIA, AND WILLIE JORDAN, JR., REGISTERED VOTERS AND ILLINOIS CITIZENS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND RONALD D. MICHAELSON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, DEFENDANTS, BEN BARNOW, INDIVIDUALLY AS A REGISTERED VOTER, PLAINTIFF, V. JIM RYAN, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL, JESSE WHITE, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE, THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND ITS MEMBERS, JOHN R. KEITH, WILLIAM M. MCGUFFAGE, DAVID E. MURRAY, PHILIP R. O'CONNOR, ALBERT PORTER, ELAINE ROUPAS, WANDA L. REDNOUR, AND JESSE SMART, ALL NAMED IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, THE ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING COMMISSION AND ITS MEMBERS, TOM CROSS, BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE, VINCE DEMUZIO, MARCUCCI, THOMAS MARCUCCI, THOMAS MCCRACKEN, AND JORGE RAMIREZ, ALL NAMED IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Philip G. Reinhard, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On September 28, 2001, this court heard consolidated oral argument in the above two cases. That same day, due to impending deadlines imposed by the Illinois Constitution and the necessity of an immediate decision, the court announced its decision from the bench and entered orders disposing of both cases with a written opinion to follow in due course. This is that opinion.*fn1

I. INTRODUCTION

On August 20, 2001, plaintiffs in Case No. 01 C 50229 (collectively referred to as "the Winters plaintiffs") filed a first-amended complaint against defendants, the Illinois State Board of Elections and Ronald D. Michaelson, in his capacity as the Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. The court has since granted leave to the following parties to intervene in the Winters action: John Tully, intervening as a defendant, James "Pate" Philip and Lee A. Daniels (collectively referred to as "the Philip intervenors"), intervening as plaintiffs, and the League of United Latin American Citizens ("LULAC"), intervening as a plaintiff.

Meanwhile, plaintiff in Case No. 01 C 6566, Ben Barnow, originally filed his two-count complaint against defendants,*fn2 Jim Ryan, in his official capacity as the Illinois Attorney General, Jesse White, in his official capacity as the Illinois Secretary of State, the State Board of Elections and its members, all in their official capacities, and the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission and its members, all in their official capacities, with the Illinois Supreme Court on August 17, 2001. The Attorney General, acting on behalf of the Barnow defendants, subsequently removed the Barnow case to the Northern District of Illinois under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), on the basis of federal question jurisdiction, see id. § 1331.

Because the Winters and Barnow complaints each challenge the constitutionality of Illinois' reapportionment and legislative redistricting process, this three-judge court was convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2284 and assigned to both cases. Jurisdiction and venue for the cases are proper in this district and division under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 1367, 1391.

II. BACKGROUND

Article IV, § 3(b) of the Illinois Constitution sets forth the manner in which the State of Illinois reapportions its legislative and representative districts. If the Illinois General Assembly is unable to agree on a redistricting plan, the task is charged to a Legislative Redistricting Commission ("the Commission"). The Commission is initially composed of eight members, no more than four of whom may be members of the same political party. Should the eight-member Commission deadlock and fail to approve a redistricting plan by majority vote before August 10, a ninth, tie-breaking member is appointed. To choose the ninth member, article IV, § 3(b) directs the Illinois Supreme Court to submit the names of two persons, not of the same political party, to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is then called upon to publicly "draw by random selection" the name of one of the two persons, who then becomes the ninth Commission member.

It is this so-called "tie-breaking provision," requiring the ninth Commission member to be picked at random, that precipitated the Winters plaintiffs and Barnow to file suit. They, along with the Philip intervenors, urge the court to declare that the tie-breaking provision of article IV, § 3(b) of the Illinois Constitution violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Opposing them are defendants and Tully, who seek to uphold the constitutionality of the tie-breaking provision. At the court's request, all of the parties (except LULAC, which affirmatively disclaimed any interest in doing so) submitted cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings regarding this and other specified issues, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). As it turns out, only the question of whether the tie-breaking provision violates the Fourteenth Amendment requires the court's attention in this opinion.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Judgment on the Pleadings

A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is treated the same as one to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6): the court accepts as true all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the plaintiffs. See Forseth v. Village of Sussex, 199 F.3d 363, 368 & n. 6 (7th Cir. 2000). A Rule 12(c) motion will be granted only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiffs cannot prove any facts that would support a claim for relief. See id. at 368.

The Winters plaintiffs and Philip intervenors (who filed a joint motion) suggest theirs is "essentially a motion for summary judgment," but this apparently assumes the court will consider the voluminous exhibits they have attached to their motion and response brief. However, the vast majority of materials they have tried to introduce are simply irrelevant to the court's decision. Indeed, the court wishes to make clear the only documents outside the pleadings it has considered are the verbatim transcripts from the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention — an item the court may properly take judicial notice of as a matter of public record without converting the motions for judgment on the pleadings into ones for summary judgment. See Anderson v. Simon, 217 F.3d 472, 474-75 (7th Cir. ...


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