Illinois lawmakers putting together a law allowing people to carry a concealed weapon are acting under the assumption that a federal appeals court has given the state until June to act. In what could only be considered a joker in the deck that nobody counted on, the prosecutor’s office in Cook County is suggesting that federal ruling’s meaningless.
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“Until the Supreme Court of the United States has spoken, state courts are not precluded from exercising their own judgments on federal constitutional measures,” said Paul Castiglione, representing the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. “Because lower federal courts exercise no appellate jurisdiction over state courts, decisions of lower federal courts are not conclusive on state courts.”
That gives lawmakers something to think about, says State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), who is chairing this week’s hearings about the state’s gun laws. “One of the things that will be incumbent upon the committee will be to look into” what Castiglione said. “From what some of the lawyers tell me, I think that that’s an issue we do need to double-check.”
State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), who has already introduced a bill intended to address the federal ruling, says he believes it will be “constitutional carry” this summer if the legislature does not act. “You want to talk about the Wild West?” asked State Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison), agreeing.
The House Judiciary Committee holds another hearing Friday in Chicago.