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Clark v. Illinois State Board of Elections

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

August 20, 2014

FRANK CLARK, President and Chairman of the Board of the Business Leadership Council; THE BUSINESS LEADERSHIP COUNCIL, KAREN RILEY, its Executive Director, and its Members, LEON FINNEY, ELZIE HIGGINBOTTOM, and JOHN HOOKER; THE CHINATOWN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, and its President, RAYMOND CHIN; THE LITTLE VILLAGE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, and its President, JULIO RODRIGUEZ, and its Executive Director, JAIME DI PAULO; FERNANDO GRILLO; IVAN SOLIS; CRAIG CHICO; DONALD R. JACKSON; ERNESTINE JACKSON; HELEN KING; JACKIE PETTY; and ANTHONY MARTINEZ, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, JESSE R. SMART, Chairman, CHARLES W. SCHOLZ, Vice-Chairman, HAROLD BYERS, BETTY J. COFFRIN, ERNEST L. GOWEN, WILLIAM M. McGUFFAGE, BRYAN A. SCHNEIDER, and CASSANDER B. WATSON, Members in Their Official Capacity; JUDY BAAR TOPINKA, State Comptroller, in Her Official Capacity; DAN RUTHERFORD, State Treasurer, in His Official Capacity; BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS FOR THE CITY OF CHICAGO, LANGDON D. NEAL, Chairman, RICHARD A. COWEN and MARISOL HERNANDEZ, Commissioners, in Their Official Capacity, Defendants, (The Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, Intervenor-Appellant; Yes for Independent Maps, Intervenor)

Page 772

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 14 CH 7356. Honorable Mary Mikva, Judge Presiding.

SYLLABUS

The " Term Limits Initiative" seeking to amend the Illinois Constitution by decreasing the number of legislative districts from 59 to 41, increasing the number of representative districts from 118 to 123, eliminating staggered terms for Senators and making all Senate terms four years, dividing each legislative district into three representative districts, instead of two, imposing an eight-year term limit on all members of the General Assembly and increasing the threshold needed to override the Governor's veto from three-fifths to two-thirds in each house was properly found invalid under article XIV, section 3, the provision of the Illinois Constitution requiring that amendments must be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in the legislative article, and article III, section 3, of the constitution, known as the free and equal clause, which prohibits the combination of separate and unrelated questions in one referendum.

For Appellant: Michael W. McConnell, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Washington, D.C.; Steven R. Merican, Steven R. Merican PC; J. Timothy Eaton, Jonathan Amarilio, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, Chicago.

For Appellees: Richard J. Prendergast, Michael T. Layden, Lionel W. Weaver, Richard J. Prendergast, Ltd.; Michael J. Kasper, Chicago.

PRESIDING JUSTICE CONNORS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hoffman and Lavin concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

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CONNORS, J.

[¶1] Plaintiffs, a group of not-for-profit organizations and citizen taxpayers of Illinois, brought an action to restrain the expenditure of public funds related to two petitions that proposed amendments to our state constitution. One petition, known as the Term Limits Initiative, sought to amend three sections of the legislative article (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV), while the other petition sought to change the legislative redistricting process. Only the Term Limits Initiative is at issue in this appeal.

[¶2] In the circuit court, the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits (Committee) intervened to defend the Term Limits Initiative. Following cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings, the court found the Term Limits Initiative invalid under two constitutional provisions--article XIV, section 3, which governs ballot initiatives to amend the constitution, and article III, section 3, known as the free and equal clause (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIV, § 3; art. III, § 3). On appeal, the Committee contends that the Term Limits Initiative satisfies the requirement of article XIV, section 3, that amendments must be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in the legislative article. The Committee also asserts that the Term Limits Initiative satisfies the requirements of the free and equal clause. Because the proposed amendment violates both article XIV, section 3, and the free and equal clause, we affirm the circuit court's judgment.

[¶3] BACKGROUND

[¶4] Article XIV, section 3, of our constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIV, § 3) governs the process for proposing amendments by ballot initiative and states:

" Amendments to Article IV of this Constitution may be proposed by a petition signed by a number of electors equal in number to at least eight percent of the total votes cast for candidates for Governor in the preceding gubernatorial election. Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV. *** The procedure for determining the validity and sufficiency of a petition shall be provided

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by law. If the petition is valid and sufficient, the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the electors at that general election and shall become effective if approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the amendment or a majority of those voting in the election."

[¶5] Pursuant to article XIV, section 3 , the Term Limits Initiative would amend three sections of the legislative article of the constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV). In section 1 of the legislative article, titled " Legislature--Power and Structure," the amendment would decrease the number of legislative districts[1] from 59 to 41 and increase the number of representative districts from 118 to 123. The proposed amendment would also make changes to three parts of section 2 of the legislative article, titled " Legislative Composition." In section 2(a), the amendment would eliminate staggered terms for Senators and make all Senate terms four years. In section 2(b), each legislative district would be divided into three representative districts, instead of two. Additionally, the amendment would create section 2(f), which would impose an eight-year term limit on all members of the General Assembly. Lastly, in section 9 of the legislative article, titled " Veto Procedure," the amendment would increase the threshold needed to override the Governor's veto from three-fifths to two-thirds in each house.

[¶6] In their complaint, plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the Term Limits Initiative is invalid and to enjoin various entities from disbursing public funds to put the proposed amendment on the November 4, 2014, general election ballot. Plaintiffs and the Committee filed cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to ...


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