Illinois High Court Kills November Remap Referendum

Sep 13, 2016

It’s final. An initiative to change the way legislative maps are drawn in Illinois will not appear on the November ballot.

The Illinois Supreme Court voted 4-3 against a request to reconsider its ruling about the Independent Maps Coalition’s proposal. The coalition collected 563,000 petition signatures, with a goal of asking voters to decide whether mapmaking power should be handed over to an independent commission. Currently, the party in charge of the state legislature gets to redraw political maps after a new census.

The court ruled last month the group's proposal was unconstitutional.
It's the second failed attempt to overhaul redistricting by petition in two years.  The Supreme Court rarely grants rehearings. 

Independent Maps Chair Dennis FitzSimons said in a statement that "Illinois voters have been denied their right to vote on a constitutional amendment to remove politics" from the map-making process. He went on to thank the thousands of volunteers who circulated petitions, as well as the editorial boards and community leaders who supported the cause.

Governor Bruce Rauner issued a statement calling the court’s decision “very disappointing, but not unexpected.”

“Now that the courts have denied Illinoisans the right to vote on a redistricting referendum in November for the last time, it is up to the General Assembly to address political reform - term limits and independent redistricting - as soon as they reconvene this fall.”

In a release to supporters, the Independent Maps team said the map amendment was out of options for the November election. They also said the lack of “additional clarification from the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of redistricting reform casts a long shadow over future citizen initiatives.”

The three Supreme Court justices elected as Republicans dissented in the original decision, and again Tuesday on the question of rehearing the case. It's thought that Republicans would benefit if Illinois changes how districts are drawn.

The majority ruled that the Independent Maps proposal would have improperly given the state's Auditor General a role in the mapmaking process. Many G.O.P. legislators have called on the current auditor general -- former Democratic Representative Frank Mautino -- to resign as he faces questions about campaign expenses.